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Culver City : Labor Talks at Impasse

Culver City’s largest single group of city employees failed to agree on a labor contract after six months and more than a dozen sessions at the bargaining table because of a dispute over health benefits.

The 300-member General Service group, which covers occupations ranging from garbage collectors to accountants, turned down a final offer last week, because it “basically threatened to cap health benefits whether we agreed to it or not,” said union leader Jessie Oyler.

The offer, which would have replaced the old contract that expired in June, contained a 4.5% cost of living increase and added benefits such as extra pay for bilingual employees and better overtime pay for employees who must attend City Council meetings. But the offer also contained a clause that could force employees to pay for increases in health insurance premiums after Aug. 1992.

“We are at an impasse,” said union representative David Trowbridge at an emotional City Council meeting Monday. More than 60 city employees were in attendance. “It’s not because the 4.5% increase is unfair. It’s because nobody has a handle on health insurance costs.”

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The city currently pays 100% of health insurance premiums, which cost between $350 to $600 per employee each month depending on the plan the employee has chosen, according to city personnel manager Gordon Youngs. Employees are required to pay for other plan expenses, such as deductibles and co-payments.

Union members voted to work under the old contract, with no cost of living increase, but with the same health benefits in place, Trowbridge said.


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