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California News

More raises for city workers: San Diego is giving its lawyers big pay raises to fill a gap

San Diego is giving a series of pay raises totaling more than 27% to the city’s 300 assistant attorneys, who are among the lowest-paid public attorneys in the state according to recent surveys.

The increases come a month after the city awarded a similar round of raises totaling nearly 23% over two years to more than half of its 11,000 employees.

Lawyers and other workers will also receive raises within just over two years, starting July 1.

City council members, who unanimously gave final approval to all wage increases on Tuesday, said the wage hike will help retain employees and fill thousands of vacancies that officials have accused of deteriorating services. municipal.

Several salary surveys in recent years have shown discrepancies of up to 30% between City of San Diego workers and their counterparts in other government agencies.

City officials attribute the discrepancies primarily to a nine-year wage freeze at City Hall that began in 2010 after the Great Recession and continued through 2019 due to a ballot measure banning most salary increases.

“This is a historic investment in our workers that is long overdue,” said board member Marni von Wilpert. “We’ve been trying to dig out of this hole for so long.”

The increases will cost the city $537 million over the next four fiscal years, of which $263 million will affect the city’s general operating fund and the rest will affect sewer and water systems. Those totals include impacts on the city’s retirement system, which faces greater liability when workers get raises.

The one-year impact of the increases once fully implemented will be $190 million, including $93 million in the general fund.

Councilman Joe LaCava said the big increases show the city’s all-Democrat leadership team — Mayor Todd Gloria and nine council Democrats — are continuing their efforts to boost worker morale and the quality of city services. the city.

“There were promises made about what we were going to do differently with this new mayor and this new council, and I think we’re delivering on that with these pay raises,” LaCava said.

Last year, the board adopted a compensation philosophy that sets a goal of paying at least market median compensation for comparable public employees.

Council Chairman Sean Elo-Rivera said he was grateful to the many workers who stayed on despite relatively low pay.

“I don’t know how we kept employees, given how badly the city treated them until the last few years,” he said.

The big increases come after the city reinstated pensions for all city workers last summer.

Other than police officers, no newly hired city workers had received a pension since 2012 due to an election measure that was struck down by the courts in 2018.

The pay gap for assistant city attorneys was just under 40% in the last city survey, and it was among the widest gaps for any job in the city.

“It created huge disincentives to work for the city,” said Shelley Webb, union president for the Association of Assistant City Attorneys. “With this contract, we hope to make significant progress in hiring and retaining dedicated, experienced and talented attorneys.”

Assistant city attorneys will get raises of 5% in July, followed by raises of 5% in January, 5% in July 2024, 5% in January 2025, and 5% in July 2025. With funding, the increases amount to just over 27%. .

Wage increases for about 4,500 white collar workers and about 2,000 blue collar workers are slightly lower.

These workers will receive increases of 5% in July, 5% in January, 4% in July 2024, 2% in January 2025, and 5% in July 2025. With funding, these increases add up to 22, 8%.

The city announced this week that employees not represented by unions would get a 5% raise on July 1 and another 5% increase in January. Increases for these workers are not included in the total cumulative costs to the city.

The agreements reached last year with the city’s police, fire and rescue services run until July 2024. They include annual increases of around 5%.

All employees also get a new paid leave, Juneteenth, and paid parental leave for full-time workers doubles from four weeks to eight weeks. All city employees also receive free transit passes.

Labor contracts for white-collar and blue-collar workers also target specific jobs with even higher increases. These jobs were chosen on the basis of particularly large pay gaps, unusually high vacancy rates, or both.

California Daily Newspapers

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