Thursday, September 4, 2003
Two days of bargaining--Sept.4 and Sept.5--will determine if Monterey County's largest employees union will reach a contract agreement or strike.
"Friday's D-Day," says John Vellardita, executive director for Service Employees International Union Local 817, which represents about 3,000 county workers. "Either we will have a contract Friday, or there will be no contract."
On Sept. 2, the Board of Supervisors reviewed Local 817's contract proposal in a three-hour closed session. Following that meeting Vellardita told the Weekly that his union had agreed to return to the bargaining table with county negotiators.
He wouldn't give specifics of the union's proposal, but he did say that a proposed contract between the county and sister Local 535, which represents about 440 social workers, was not acceptable to Local 817's members.
"There are basically four issues that are critical to our members," Vellardita says. "Health insurance, [cost of living] adjustments, parity adjustments, and we've very firm in wanting to bring in this independent auditor."
Vellardita says an independent audit of the county's finances will be key to a contract settlement. The union wants Harvey Rose, a San Francisco-based accounting corporation, to look at Monterey County's books "because they serve county supervisors up and down the state of California," Vellardita says.
Meanwhile Local 535 will begin voting on a proposed contract Sept. 8 that would give workers more than 5 percent in salary increases over a 23-month period. Anyone on the job for six years or more would automatically receive the 5 percent wage increase on May 29, 2004.
In addition, the county would also pay 100 percent of the health-insurance premium increases for workers and their families, and would complete a "total compensation study update" in the second year that would include a time-table and formula for parity adjustments.
"This would more or less get us up to average with the six surrounding counties, which is very radical for this county," says Wren Bradley, a senior field representative with Local 535. "It's a rather decent package. We're definitely moving into a time of different relationships with management and labor." [JL]
Teed Off About Seaside Golf
The controversial First Tee project, a plan to build a golf course with a youth instruction component, goes to the Seaside City Council for final approval on Sept. 4--unless Councilman Darryl Choates manages to have the decision delayed. After getting a substantial supplement to the Environmental Impact Report on this plan to build an 18-hole, 66-par golf course on Fort Ord, Choates will ask for a continuance.
"The council needs to do its due diligence and read it," he says. "I personally feel it's not prepared to go forward, but the Monterey Peninsula Foundation is demanding it get on the agenda."
Choates says he doesn't oppose First Tee, a national program to teach disadvantaged kids the game of golf. It's the use of Fort Ord land for this project when the city has other priorities that bothers him. He's also concerned about traffic and Seaside's limited supply of water.
Sponsoring the project is the Monterey Peninsula Foundation, a large local charity that hosts the AT&T Pebble Beach golf tournament. Part of the plan is for the foundation to build its office on the First Tee site and eventually turn that building over to the city. Choates and leaders of the local NAACP believe that the Foundation doesn't need to have its building there and can teach kids golf at the existing Bayonet/Blackhorse golf courses. He believes the matter should be put to a public vote.
"Do [people] really want another golf course in this city?" he asks.
Ollie Nutt, executive vice president of the Monterey Peninsula Foundation, looks forward to making the project happen, hopefully in early 2004. He says other local golf courses are not available for youth use and are often so hard as to discourage beginners. As for opposition to having the Foundation building on-site, Nutt says, "We can put our building somewhere else."
With $500,000 already invested in the project and negotiations over land transfers with the Army, the state and other agencies progressing, Nutt looks at it as an excellent "one-time opportunity" for Seaside. "We need to see this to its conclusion, hopefully this week," he says. [AS]
Sanctuary Plan Narrows
After two years and more than a hundred public meetings, the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS) staff is preparing its draft management plan for shipment to Washington DC, where it will be reviewed by brass at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The management plan review process has been closely watched by various interest groups because it sets new rules for the federal oversight of 5,300 square miles of ocean from Marin County to just south of San Simeon.
Although the plan review process is a chance to tweak and adjust, significant changes in rules include addressing discharges from visiting cruise ships; the possible inclusion within the Sanctuary of a unique offshore marine habitat known as the Davison Seamount; a rule prohibiting krill harvesting; a rule clarifying where local harbors can dump their dredge material; and a rule that closes a loophole on personal watercraft, also know as jet skis.
A question of where to install a Sanctuary visitor center has been narrowed down. An option to put it in Monterey was eliminated and two choices remain in Santa Cruz and one at Seacliff State Park.
After another round of public hearings early next year, the goal is to have the management plan finalized and set in place by fall of 2004. [AS]