NEW LABOR AGREEMENTS’ GOAL: ATTRACT AND RETAIN TOP TALENT
SAN DIEGO – As part of his efforts to correct years of City mismanagement and improve the quality of services provided to the public, Mayor Todd Gloria and the City Council are investing in the City’s workforce after reaching tentative agreements with some of the City’s employee organizations this week.
“We are setting the City on a path to attract and retain top-notch public servants who provide the everyday services San Diegans rely on,” Mayor Gloria said. “For too long, past City leaders sat idly by while workers were underpaid, leading to some of our most promising and experienced employees leaving for better-paying jobs at other agencies in the region. Today’s action is a key step to getting San Diego back on track as our employees come back to work.”
There are high rates of vacancies for key positions like hazardous materials inspectors or water plant technicians. The 12.9 percent vacancy rate across all City departments results in slower services and a backlog of requests for fixes on streetlights, street cleanups and other popular services offered on the City’s “Get It Done” mobile application.
A 2020 audit showed a major factor behind employee turnover was significant pay gaps compared to other California jurisdictions. For example, City of San Diego white-collar workers with five years of experience made 26 percent less than their counterparts in other cities. These agreements will position the City to be a more attractive regional employer through compensation and benefits.
Most City employees only received modest salary increases in the 2019 and 2020 fiscal years after years of stagnant wages.
In 2012, Proposition B mandated a five-year pay freeze and eliminated pensions for all new employees. City employees do not pay into social security, which meant benefits were limited to a 401(k)-style retirement plan. Though backers of the measure claimed other cities would follow suit, they never did. That resulted in the City’s retirement benefits being less desirable than what other agencies offer.
The rightsizing of employee compensation was factored into Mayor Gloria’s proposed “Back to Work SD” budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1 and his five-year plan to overcome the structural budget deficit left in place by the previous administration.
The City will provide additional details when the agreements are finalized in the coming weeks.
The new agreements will also bolster Mayor Gloria’s efforts to address pay equity disparities revealed in San Diego’s first public study last month.