Employee retention drives new Placer wage, benefit agreement

Published on July 25, 2017

The Placer County Board of Supervisors today approved a new labor agreement with the Placer Public Employees Organization, outlining general wage increases for the county employees PPEO represents over the next five years.

The agreement is effective July 1, 2017 and will remain in effect through June 30, 2022. PPEO represents approximately 2,000 county employees; 88 percent of the members who cast a ballot voted in favor of the agreement following extensive negotiations with the county. The agreement acknowledges the county’s commitment to employee engagement and retention, and its continuing focus on fiscal responsibility.

Under the agreement, PPEO members will receive a 4 percent wage increase in August 2017, a 3 percent increase in July 2018 and 2 percent increases in 2019 and 2020, helping to offset continuing cost-of-living increases.

The previous labor agreement was approved in July 2014, offering county employees a comparatively-lower wage increase of 6 percent spread over three years, attributed to the county’s slow climb out of the economic downturn.

In a move to encourage employees who work in North Lake Tahoe to also live there, the agreement also mandates that new Tahoe employees provide proof of local residency in order to receive Tahoe branch assignment pay, also known as Tahoe subsidy pay. Branch assignment pay will be increased from $775 per month to $825 per month effective July 2018 and increased to $875 per month effective July 2019.

Another initiative has also been built into the agreement to help offset additional costs: changing the five-step salary schedule model to a 10-step salary schedule for employees hired on or after March 1, 2019. The county’s salary plan provides pay grades for each job classification with annual step increases based on a performance review merit system. Spreading the increases over 10 steps rather than five is intended to help with employee retention and allow for more room to grow in a position, but saves the county money if employees leave their positions before achieving their highest possible level of pay.

The county’s 85 confidential and unclassified non-management employees will also receive the same wage increases, totaling $300,000 for fiscal year 2017-18, with annual costs adjusting to about $1 million by fiscal year 2021-22. PPEO-represented employees will also receive an increase in the amount of county-provided life insurance coverage, from $10,000 to $50,000, and the annual tuition reimbursement limit will be raised to $1,200.

Implementation of the agreement will increase compensation costs by $7.9 million for the 2017-18 fiscal year. The annual impact over the remaining agreement length is anticipated to range from $13.5 million to $20 million, including merit increases and benefit costs for things like pensions. The county expects the cost increase to be somewhat offset by cost savings resulting from the new 10-step system of wage increases.