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Supervisors approve deal with SEIU months after social worker strike

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors

Los Angeles County supervisors approved a deal with the county's largest public employee union Tuesday, putting the cap on an unusually contentious period in county labor relations.

The new contracts between the county and Service Employees International Union Local 721 include a 6% raise over three years and an additional $200,000 to be contributed by the county to a ride-share subsidy program.

The county will also increase its contribution to employee healthcare plans by 7.2% to cover rising premiums, and will contribute an extra $500 to each worker's flexible benefits plan over the next year.

Social worker caseloads became a major issue in negotiations. Thousands of social workers went on strike for six days in December, the first strike by county employees in more than a decade.

The county has agreed to hire 450 children's social workers by October as a step toward reducing caseloads. It will also improve training for new social workers.

The Department of Children and Family Services had already begun the hiring process for some of those positions last year and as of last month, reported it had hired 145 social workers and made conditional offers to about 200.

SEIU members voted to approve the new contracts earlier this month, and the board's approval was the last required step.

Separately, county management and unions have come to a deal to reduce the future cost of retiree healthcare paid by the county. Under the proposal, the county will continue to cover 100% of retiree health premiums under an Anthem Blue Cross plan for those who worked for the county 25 years or more. The county will no longer cover the cost for spouses and dependents or the full cost of more expensive plans.

Officials estimated the deal could save the county up to $840 million over the next 30 years.   

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Twitter: @sewella

abby.sewell@latimes.com

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