MID OKs pay hike for union workers

jsmith@mercedsunstar.comApril 9, 2013 

— The Merced Irrigation District board of directors approved a pay increase under a new contract on Tuesday with its union workers.

After only two months of negotiations, the irrigation district and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers have reached an agreement to boost wages and benefits for the district's 90 union workers.

"I think it was good for everybody," said MID board Chairman Tim Pellissier. "They went two years without a pay increase. I think they were due. It's not a large increase. I think we can both live with it."

Under the contract, which runs from April through September 2016, union employees will get a 2 percent wage increase in 2014 and 2015.

The board voted with no opposition to approve the contract. However, recently elected MID board member Kevin Gonzalves, who campaigned on improving "worker morale," was absent for the vote. He could not be reached for comment.

The union made wage and benefit concessions during the last bargaining session, according to union officials. The contract expired at the end of last month.

Recently elected board member Scott Koehn said he was "happy" with the negotiations. "All indications were that through the entire negotiation process that staff-board-union relationships improved," he said. "The contract was negotiated in good faith."

Under the contract, union employees will receive bonus pay of up to 2.5 percent of regular wages plus $500 to be paid in April. Employees will receive a half-percent bonus to be paid in 2016.

Health and welfare coverage benefit levels will increase for workers. Benefit levels will be adjusted to include monthly premium contribution of $50 for a single employee, $100 for an employee and partner and $150 for a family.

Reporter Joshua Emerson Smith can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or jsmith@mercedsunstar.com.

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