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L.A. Lifeguards Get 10% Raise, Retirees Get 0%

Los Angeles County Beach Lifeguards and other public employees will receive the equivalent of a 10 percent pay raise over the next two years, while retirees on Social Security will receive zero increases.

Because inflation supposedly is non-existent, millions of California senior citizens who depend on every dollar from their Social Security pensions will get no Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) over the next two years. This is the first “zero increase” since automatic adjustments were adopted into law in 1975.

The Service Employees International Union 721, with 55,000 members, celebrated their victory with a banner on their website enitled: “Contract Settlement* Raises Up ALL of LA County!”

The union deal provides pay increases to all Los Angeles County union employees:

  • +3% October 1, 2015
  • +3% October 1, 2016
  • +2% October 1, 2017
  • +2% April 1, 2018

But the contract is also loaded with other goodies that substantially push compensation, benefits and pensions much higher:

  • Additional salary increases (beyond the general raises) for 25 percent of workforce; $15/hour minimum wage for all union members by 2018;
  • $100-300/month increase in county contribution to medical premium increases; and
  • “Path to Permanency” for temporary workers;
  • Additional vacation accrual (up to an extra week) for employees after 20 years of service;
  • Higher premium pay for evening, night shift and standby duty; and
  • Cesar Chavez Day becomes an extra paid holiday in 2017.

Adding in what unions call a twenty-five year “BREAKTHROUGH!” for new benefits; it appears that the contract adds at least the equivalent of four percent to compensation.

But the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) and all other public employee in California deem “any one-time or ad hoc payments” for such items as bonuses, housing or transportation reimbursements, overtime allowances, uniform allowances, vacation time and etc. as “pensionable compensation.”

With the combination of the 3 percent annual pay increases and 4 percent immediate benefit increases, public employees in Los Angeles County just receivedwhat appears to be a 10 percent pension spike this year and big increases over the next three years.

Los Angeles County in April unveiled what it called a balanced budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2015-16 totaling $26.923 billion, which included expanding it 101,296 budgeted positions. The total current cost increase and long-term pension cost increase were not disclosed.

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