AFSCME Local 619 Ratifies New Contract with Major Wins

Six months ago, AFSCME Local 619 in the City of Cerritos began negotiating a new union contract. As many local unions have experienced, negotiating during the COVID-19 pandemic has been even more difficult than before. However, this time, negotiations were different than they have been before, and the Local 619 bargaining team was able to negotiate a new contract with major wins.

Previously, the Local 619 bargaining team negotiated with a city attorney that would threaten the union’s bargaining team with “take it or leave it offers!” However, this time, the city hired a new attorney that never threatened the Union’s team and listened to the concerns of the bargaining team and worked with AFSCME to produce solutions.
Over the past few months, the bargaining team was able to negotiate a new health insurance plan, job protection for the bargaining unit, a new employee handbook, and improvements to the grievance process.

For many unions, job protection has been even more important during the pandemic. Millions of employees faced layoffs and furloughs due to the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. So, making sure that there would be no layoffs or furloughs was extremely important to the Local 619 membership. They were able to ensure that there would be no furloughs or layoffs for the entirety of the 3-year contract, and they were able to secure a Cost-of-Living Allowance (COLA).

The bargaining team were able to secure the best health insurance plan offered by CalPERS, with the City agreeing to pay up to the cost of the family plan. Also, they updated their grievance process to include in-person meetings at every step. The process was also changed so employees facing serious discipline would go to a disciplinary panel with two City supervisors, not involved with the discipline, and one union representative appointed by the union to ensure Due Process was followed. Lastly, members are now able to grieve the handbook policies.

Finally, they were able to negotiate a new employee handbook, which includes an anti-bullying policy. The City has never had an employee handbook, so it was extremely important to the membership that its first handbook included an anti-bullying policy to protect groups that are not already considered protected classes under the federal anti-discrimination law, which would be age, ethnicity, gender, and sexual preference. The Union believes that a culture of respect should be fostered by the city and bullying is inconsistent with that culture.

It is exciting to see that Local 619 has been able to negotiate a strong 3-year contract during an economic crisis and pandemic. Congratulations to the entire bargaining team and membership. When we stand together, we win! #UnionStrong