Sunday, June 26, 2011 – 12:20 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, June 26, 2011 – 03:10 p.m.

The San Bernardino County Safety Employees’ Benefit Association (SEBA) appears to be going the way of the San Bernardino Public Employees Association (SBPEA) when it comes to contract ratification votes.

SEBA has somehow set up a process for changing one’s secret closed ballot vote.

A process unheard of in the Association, and a process not provided for in the groups bylaws.

Concerns have arisen within the union’s hierarchy that the current contract vote forcing the temporary deferral of two 2% salary increases, elimination of a 2.5% member contribution towards the county’s employer retirement rate and the elimination of the county retirement pickup, will fail to garner the required majority vote.

The larger issue here is officers not at the top salary step will only see annual step increases of 2.5%, instead of current 5%. A huge and permanent win for the county.

Under the step revision language new deputies will not reach top step for upwards of 18 years.

Combine the step increase concession with the fact SEBA members will be paying 100% of the employee contribution and the situation isn’t sitting well with rank and file members.

SEBA members can’t really be happy. Their compensation package is once again pressure. Rising health insurance premiums is eating away at their take-home pay, and will likely continue to do so for years to come.

The recent news of a new contract giving officers within the LAPD salary increases probably isn’t helping the situation.

Who blinked first?

Let the finger pointing begin!

County insiders say SEBA approached the county with the current offer and county supervisors accepted it. SEBA on the other hand is saying the county approached it with the current offer and it was a good deal.

Either way, neither side wants to own it.

More to come

The contract proposal before SEBA gives the county no where near what it was seeking, and it’s definitely not equivalent to the already approved reductions imposed on exempt management and firefighter employees represented by San Bernardino County Professional Firefighters Local 935.

The aforementioned agreements with exempt and firefighters are subject to a “me too” clause requiring all county employees to agree to the same level of concessions.

The SEBA contract, if approved, easily blows the other two agreements up from the standpoint of percentage reduction.

County Chief Executive Officer Greg Devereaux is trying to make the case that SEBA members paying 100% of the employee contribution rate is equivalent to the other deals.

The only problem here?

The other agreements involve a pre-tax reduction of 7% towards retirement, where SEBA is roughly a net reduction of 2% on the retirement contribution number.

However, SEBA can expect the county to come back next year seeking to have the 3% at age 50 retirement package rescinded.

There’s definitely more to come on this issue.