Orange County Seal

By Jessica Kwong / Staff Writer
Dec. 24, 2015 – Updated 9:25 a.m.

SANTA ANA – Employees with Orange County’s largest union are heading into the holidays assured of their biggest salary raise since the recession, under a three-year contract the Board of Supervisors approved Wednesday morning.

Requiring six months of negotiation, the contract expiring in June 2018 grants the Orange County Employees Association’s more than 10,000 members a 4.5 percent raise the first year and an additional 2.5 percent the following two years. Employees, who last saw a raise in March 2014, will also receive $500 in January, in December 2016 and in December 2017.

The vote was unanimous – but only after debate over a public records request submitted Monday morning and fulfilled the night before the board’s special meeting.

Board Chairman Todd Spitzer wondered if the public and records requester Kathy Moran, a former county employee who worked for then-Supervisor John Moorlach, had sufficient time to review the 32 proposals and counter-proposals produced between the county and union.

“My only point was the public knows nothing. This is their time to know about the process” of the contract terms, said Spitzer, asking staff if it was possible to delay the vote. In that event, Supervisor Michelle Steel suggested looking into making the contract retroactive two weeks.

But that didn’t sit well with Spitzer’s board colleagues, or the union’s general manager, Jennifer Muir.

During public comment, Muir stressed that workers have been waiting six months since the prior contract expired and shouldn’t have to be left “hanging in the balance” due to one records request made in “the ninth hour.”

“Our members through the recession have sacrificed, they have done more with less and now is the time we can move forward as a county,” Muir said. “This moment is a moment that will send a very strong message to our membership.”

Employees’ 1.25 percent salary boost in March 2014 was their first increase since the 2007-09 contract, which entailed 2.5 to 5 percent raises but also higher health care and retirement costs.

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