Union approves labor deal saving city millions

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SAN DIEGO — The union representing the largest block of San Diego municipal employees announced Thursday that its members overwhelmingly ratified a five-year labor deal with the city.

The Municipal Employees Association, which represents about 4,000 city of San Diego workers, announced on its website that the agreement received 91 percent approval.

The deal, reached last week, is expected to save city coffers tens of millions of dollars in contributions to the pension system, while employees will see gradual restoration of most of a 6 percent pay cut in effect since 2009.

San Diego city moneyMEA members will receive 1.75 percent more in each of the next three fiscal years, mainly through a reduction in furlough days. They will also have the right to reopen negotiations for the fourth year — while hoping that projected revenue increases to the city are realized.

Members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Local 127 were scheduled to complete their ratification vote today, while firefighters have votes scheduled during meetings scheduled for tonight and Friday morning.

The San Diego Police Officers Association, unionized lifeguards and Deputy City Attorneys Association also need to ratify the pact.

If the deal is given a thumbs-up by all six labor organizations, the City Council will consider final approval next week.

Adoption of the agreement could also have a major impact on the budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Mayor Bob Filner has said the city should be able to save $25 million, with $20 million for the general fund — which pays for basic services like public safety and libraries.

The mayor said about half of the savings will be used for the increased payroll expenses, while a lot of the rest will be used to reduce a reliance on one-time revenue to balance the municipal checkbook for the next fiscal year.

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