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Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Health care is sticking point in sanitation negotiations
Herald File Photo

Union workers in Oceanside’s Sanitary District 7 have balked at ratifying a contract recommended in July by a fact-finder and their own union officials, rejecting a non-binding recommendation that workers pay a portion of their health care costs.

“We are going to vote sometime prior to the sanitation board’s Oct. 3 meeting, but without the health care cost recommendations,” Daniel Gatto, president of Local 854 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which represents the workers, said of the fact-finder’s recommendation. “Health care costs must remain status quo, with the district paying the entire cost. There is no way we can get our members to ratify a contract as long as it has the health care cost provision. Our older workers will not accept that in any form.”

Gatto added that the vote of the membership will then be taken back to the sanitation commissioners. “I don’t know if they will accept our vote without the health care provisions,” he said. “I hope they do.”

Board attorney Anthony Iovino was taken aback when contacted by the Herald for comment on Gatto’s statement. “How come I’m hearing this for the first time from you?” Iovino asked. “That is part and parcel of the way the union negotiates. I would have appreciated a head’s-up that they couldn’t accept the health care recommendation.

“I can’t say how the board will react when the union comes to it with a contract proposal that doesn’t include health care payments,” he added. “I can’t imagine that they will just say, ‘Go ahead and pick the parts of the recommendations you like and reject those you do not.’”

Iovino said that should there be a contractual impasse, the board would hold a public hearing, at which both parties would get a chance to tell their sides of the story. The board could then impose a contract for 2011, the first year after the 2010 expiration of the most recent contract.

“Then the parties can start negotiations all over again for the 2012 and subsequent contracts,” Iovino explained.

The 16-page fact-finder’s report, issued by Eugene Ginsberg on July 24, made a series of non-binding recommendations. Among them was that district workers pay a percentage of their health care costs for the first time.

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