San Jose is set to approve new labor agreements with three of its unions, covering police dispatchers, park rangers, and building, mechanical and electrical inspectors, offering an average annual wage increase of 4% over the next three years according to the San Jose Business Journal.
These new labor agreements, which affect 265 workers, are said to be fair to both employees and residents. The 5% pay raises in the city's coming fiscal year will be implemented starting July 1, and the deals also include pay increases that will not affect future pension payments. For instance, park rangers and inspectors will receive a $1,000 payment for their work during the Covid-19 pandemic, which will not be taken into account for pension calculations.
Furthermore, employees who sign up for crisis intervention training will receive a 2.5% premium to their salaries in 2025-2025, with an additional 1.25% premium the following year, which will also not affect future pensions. Moreover, members of all three unions will be able to take up to 160 hours of paid-parental leave, marking the first deal of its kind for the San Jose Police Dispatchers' Association.
Public safety expenses have risen over recent years in cities across California, including San Jose, where costs reached a record $727.3 million in 2021-22, up 7.8% over 2018 when adjusted for inflation, per The Center Square. For example, in Palo Alto, Fire Captain Barry Marchisio earned a total pay of $491,400 in 2022, surpassing even the city manager's earnings of $395,466, as we reported here on Hoodline last month.
Overtime played a significant role in increased payouts, particularly due to staffing shortages during the pandemic, and city budgets are now shifting to address these staffing issues and growing demands for public services. For instance, Palo Alto's proposed city budget aims to increase staffing by 34 full-time positions, while San Francisco is experiencing an overall city payroll increase of 6% in 2022.