The decision to impose the County of Riverside’s Last, Best, and Final Offer on SEIU comes after more than two years of intense negotiations, including 39 meetings and multiple attempts at compromise by the County of Riverside.
By taking this critical step, the County of Riverside is being responsible with our taxpayer dollars and protecting us from a $35 million cost overrun. I have to do what is in the best interest of our 2.5 million residents, and I take that responsibility seriously. Failing to rein in this excessive spending would have been reckless and irresponsible.
Riverside County’s financial situation is bleak: it maintains a structural deficit and declining reserves, and the State of California continues to impose substantially increasing financial obligations on all counties. Keeping this reality in mind, SEIU’s demands were, unfortunately, impossible to fulfill. Members of SEIU have seen an average 49 percent increase in compensation over the past five years. On average, the compensation of SEIU members is 18 percent above market at top step when compared to the five surrounding counties. These kinds of increases are simply unsustainable.
Under the imposed memorandum, employees will receive 2.71 percent pay increases every year, which is much more manageable than the kinds of pay hikes the union demanded while still an increase from their current levels of pay.
Conversely, I support returning to the negotiating table with LIUNA, with whom the County of Riverside met nine times and who expressed a willingness today to compromise.