The dust raised during salary talks between Salt Lake City employee unions and the city has settled somewhat this week, but an association of downtown retailers is baffled by a pledge by one union to boycott downtown businesses.
City negotiators and the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees local 1004, representing clerical-technical workers, reached "tentative agreement" on some issues, both parties said Wednesday.Additionally, the Salt Lake Police Association met with the city for a "hard-working" negotiating session Wednesday and agreed to huddle again Friday for further talks, city negotiator John Gisler said.
Police union head David Greer said the union still has a lot of details to work out before it meets again for negotiations Friday. "When we have the true spirit of their offer, we'll take it to the membership of the union and get their feedback as to whether they want us to work further with it or they are satisfied or they want to flat out reject it," he said.
"We're asking for a totally restructured pay scale that will cost the city about $460,000. We're asking for a reinstatement of uniform allowances which would put the sum total to $560,000 and would give us a raise of about 4 3/4 percent. They're offering about $350,000," which would be a real dollar raise of about 2-3 percent in take-home pay.
"If we had asked for a lot of money then we'd be justified in taking a lot of heat, but we didn't. Now they're trying to make us the bullies," Greer said.
The city offered police and fire unions an alternative salary package when both unions rejected the city's first 2 percent COLA and 2 to 2.75 percent merit increase.
The city is now offering the same merit increase but an alternate 2 percent contribution to employees' pension funds which would result in a bigger paycheck for union members.
Gisler also met with AFSCME and reached a tentative agreement on a 3 percent cost of living adjustment and 2.5 percent merit increase for clerical workers belonging to the union.
AFSCME President Gordon Ottley praised the agreement reached over clerical salaries and said he was optimistic a pact could be reached governing wages for other AFSCME members.
He cautioned, however, that a contract with the city and AFSCME could be withheld pending an acceptable agreement with the fire and police unions. "Our membership wants to show their support," he said.
Meanwhile, the International Firefighters Association local 1645, which said this week it would organize a boycott of downtown Salt Lake merchants, has yet to return to the bargaining table.
The union came under fire from the Downtown Merchants Association for threats to boycott downtown businesses. "We find it very difficult to understand," said association director Ev Gray.
Fire union boss Charlie Quick said he will ask the AFL-CIO and non-union citizens to boycott downtown businesses, an act Gray described as "biting the hand that feeds you."
Gray said sales tax generated by retail sales account for a significant portion of the city's general fund budget, which fuels employee wages. This year, the city budgeted for $21 million in sales tax receipts.