Santa Rosa employees push for first raise in years

Most Santa Rosa government employees have been working without a contract since July 1 as negotiations drag on over whether they should get raises for the first time in years.

"It's moving slowly," acknowledged Human Resources Director Fran Elm.

In previous years, union groups have been more motivated to accept concessions to prevent layoffs of colleagues and help the city through challenging budget times.

But this year, with the budget bouncing back somewhat and city hiring again, bargaining units are done giving concessions and are holding out hope for a restoration of raises that many employees have forgone for three years, Elm said.

Most employees have gone without cost-of-living increases for three years and gave up unpaid furloughs of between 3 and 5 percent of salary to help ease the budget crunch.

The city is no longer asking for furloughs but doesn't feel the time is right for a restoration of raises, Elm said.

"We're not out of the woods yet," she said.

Police and police management unions aren't currently in negotiations. But all other 10 groups are, and so far only one has struck a deal with the city.

The 55 civilian police employees — including dispatchers and evidence technicians — represented by SEIU have agreed to another year without raises.

But their furloughs are also going away, meaning they'll see a 3 percent increase in take-home pay this year.

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