BY DUANE W. GANG
STAFF WRITER
dgang@pe.com

Published: 10 February 2012 05:38 PM

Riverside County has reached a tentative deal with its second-largest union, less than two weeks after Service Employees International Union Local 721 held a one-day strike to push the county back to the bargaining table.

SEIU announced the agreement late Thursday on its website. The tentative deal includes provisions for employees to pay toward their own retirements but also provides step pay and cost-of-living increases for the 5,800 employees represented by the union.

“The County heard your voices and has provided a contract that ensures fairness and dignity for the hard working families of Riverside County,” the union said in announcing the agreement.

SEIU spokeswoman Tracie Morales said Friday that the website announcement would be the union’s only comment. She said a joint statement with the county was planned for next week.

Riverside County Human Resources Director Barbara Olivier also confirmed the deal by email Friday but said the specific cost figures would not be available until Tuesday.

“As with our other agreements, this contract will provide savings in the first two years and then have net costs in the last three,” Olivier said.

The relationship between the county and SEIU had been strained in recent months. The Jan. 31 work stoppage — more than 1,000 employees participated — was the latest escalation between county management and the union, which represents employees ranging from clerks to nurses and social workers.

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