Labor Negotiations

Why does the County have to bargain with the Unions?
California law (Government Code) provides employees the right to form, join and participate in "concerted" or "Union" activities. When this occurs, the employer and the union have an obligation to “meet and confer in good faith” on matters involving wages, hours, or other terms and conditions of employment. The result of this “meet and confer” process or “collective bargaining” process is a negotiated labor agreement or “MOU.”

How many bargaining units does the County have?
The County has 23 bargaining units. Several bargaining units are represented by the same labor organization. You can view the MOUs (labor agreements) on the County's website at:

When do MOUs expire?

MOUs are bargained at different periods of time, therefore, expiration dates vary depending on the bargaining unit.

How does the County determine what it will propose for bargaining?
There are many factors taken into consideration when the County decides what issues it will introduce during the negotiations process, the strongest influences being the County's fiscal and operational considerations. With the approval of the County Administrator’s Office and the direction from the Board of Supervisors, proposals identified to meet the needs of the County’s objectives are brought forward during the negotiations process.

How do I find out what my union is proposing for bargaining?
Each union has a different process on informing what the Union is proposing during the negotiations process. From time to time we may post on this site both the County's and Union proposals.

Who has authority to decide what will be in the contract?
The two parties to every negotiation, the County and the Union, each have their own process for determining what proposals they bring to the negotiations table. Through the collective bargaining process, the parties attempt to reach agreement by negotiating the proposals presented. When tentative agreement is reached, the Union presents the agreement to their members for approval. If the employees approve the tentative agreement, the County then brings the agreement to the Board of Supervisors for adoption.

Will I have any say in the negotiations?
Each Union has their own process for seeking input on the collective bargaining proposals.

If my MOU expires while the County and the union are still negotiating, what happens?
If the MOU expires prior to a successor MOU being successfully negotiated, the terms and conditions of employment remain in place while the parties are still engaged in the negotiations process.

What is a concession?
A "concession" is a term used when the employees are being asked to reduce or eliminate previously provided wages or benefits.

How does the budget impact the negotiations discussion?
Any structural budget deficit is one of the most important factors for negotiation discussions from the County's perspective. Labor costs are the highest percentage of costs to the General Fund. Therefore, increases to wages or benefits, directly impact the budget deficit.

How long does bargaining last?
There is no set time frame for bargaining to be concluded. Both parties have an obligation to meet and confer in good faith. Insofar as those discussions continue to be productive, the parties continue to meet. When, after a reasonable period of time, the parties fail to reach agreement, the parties may mutually agree to request mediation.

What is impasse?
When the parties have reached a deadlock in negotiations they are said to have reached an impasse in negotiations.

What is mediation?
Mediation is a voluntary process sometimes used when the parties are unable to reach agreement. If both parties agree to seek the assistance of a neutral third party, a state "mediator" will meet with the parties and try and resolve remaining issues.

What are the benefits of using mediation?
A neutral mediator may be able to assist the parties in resolving proposals that remain in dispute. They may be able to offer a different perspective or may see possible solutions to the issues which may not have been explored.

Are the parties required to use mediation?
No, the use of a mediator is strictly voluntary by both parties.

What happens if agreement is not reached?

Effective January 1, 2012, when a local public agency has reached an impasse during collective bargaining with representatives of a recognized employee organization, the employee organization will be able to require the bargaining impasse to be submitted to a fact finding panel.  Specifically, if a mediator is unable to effect settlement between the parties within thirty (30) days of being appointed, the employee organization may request that the parties' differences be submitted to a tri-partite fact finding panel consisting of one representative from each of the sides and a chairperson selected by the Public Employment Relations Board ("PERB"). 


The fact finding panel is charged with making written findings of fact and advisory recommendations covering unresolved issues during negotiations.  The panel is empowered to conduct investigations, hold hearings and take any steps it deems appropriate to resolve the bargaining impasse, including the issuance of subpoenas requiring witness testimony and the production of evidence.


If the impasse is not settled by the panel within thirty (30) days after their appointment, they must submit any findings of fact and recommended terms of settlement to the parties.  The public agency is required to make these findings and recommendations publicly available within ten (10) days of receiving them.  After applicable mediation and fact finding procedures have been exhausted, but no earlier than ten (10) days after the issuance of the panel's written findings and recommendations, a public agency may implement its last, best and final offer.  Prior to doing so the agency must hold a public hearing regarding the impasse.

What's the role of the Board of Supervisors in this process?
The Board of Supervisors grants the authority to the County’s Chief Negotiator to present the proposals that meet the operational and fiscal objectives of the County.

What is "EPMC?"

EPMC stands for Employer Paid Member Contribution. There are two types of contributions made to fund an employee’s retirement – employer contributions and employee contributions. The employer’s rates vary annually, but the contributions designated as the “employee’s share” is set by statute; 8% for Miscellaneous or 9% for Safety. In the case of an EPMC, the County pays a portion of the employee’s contribution in addition to paying the employer’s contribution.

What is a "Cafeteria Plan?"
A cafeteria plan, maintained by the employer, provides participants an opportunity to receive certain benefits (such as health and dental insurance) on a pre-tax basis, as long as it meets the specific requirements of and regulations of section 125 of the Internal Revenue Code.

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