A group of about 200 employees in the City of Palm Springs have been working without a contract since July 1, 2018.
“Our city workers do a lot of things from public safety, crime scene investigation, maintenance of records, they work at city hall to keep your bills going and your utilities going and they work at the airport to make sure people get in and out of the city,” says Ryan Hudson a research and policy analyst with the Service Employees International Union or SEIU, the union negotiating the contract with the city.
Hudson says while they’re far from an impasse, there’s two sticking points at the center of the deal, the first: safety.
“Someone actually was working on the roof of a building and completely fell through the building through glass that was dirty and not marked as glass, there were no rails around it and one of our members fell through and was severely injured and has not come back to work,” says Hudson adding they requested records a couple of months ago they have yet to receive.
“We just want to make sure that we have the data to evaluate what kind of safety incidents are occurring at the city and if this is a pattern that we should be concerned about,” says Hudson.
David Ready, the city manager with the City of Palm Springs, says they care about their employees and their safety and would never try to hide facts, “The opposite of that because if there’s any safety issues there’s nothing more important to me than making sure that if there’s issues they get fixed and that we would hide nothing we would only want to make sure that we get those issues resolved.”
The second issue is pay.
“Managers have gotten the 7.5 percent raise along with other units and so they’ve had that same raise yet and so they’ve had that raise for some time we want to make sure that we have the same increase that everyone in the city has no more no less,” says Hudson adding it’s a raise they’ve earned and have always been team players when the chips are down, “they voluntarily decided that they would reduce their own salary during the recession so that the city could continue to function and thrive.”
“The employees did step up and we are very appreciative for that and now in these negotiations where the city is in a better economic position we think we’re able to give back to the employees,” says Ready.
Both sides say they continue to come to the table in good faith and are looking forward to coming to an agreement soon.
“Palm Springs is a wonderful place and it’s wonderful in part because of all the services we can provide and without our employees we can’t provide those services so it’s a partnership,” says Ready.