| Diocese, cemetery workers
ink 10-year, no-layoff pact
A 10-year labor agreement that includes no layoffs, a boost to health benefits and a buyout of the union-managed pension has been ratified between Roman Catholic Cemeteries of the Diocese of Oakland and Cemetery Workers' & Greens Attendants' Union, SEIU Local 265.
The pact, four years in the making, covers about 25 workers, and provides that as union workers retire or quit, cemeteries management will contract with an outside vendor for lawn and landscape care at its six Bay Area cemeteries. Union members will continue to perform the specialized tasks involved in burials and facilities maintenance.
"We have a special role in all our communities to support and uphold the dignity of workers and their right to fair and living wages," said Oakland Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ. "The agreement we achieved by negotiating in good faith maintains jobs and protects the economic interests of both the Church and the workers involved."
Robert Seelig, executive director of Catholic Management Services, said "Negotiations can be difficult and both sides worked to build trust which is evidenced by a 10-year agreement ratified by a 22-1 vote by the union membership in favor of the new agreement." Catholic Management Services, a ministry of the diocese, offers cemetery and funeral management services to the Diocese of Oakland and others.
The agreement, announced Dec. 22, includes incentive-based wage increases throughout the 10-year contract span, no job eliminations and the no-layoff clause. The cemetery workers will move from their underperforming pension plan and eligible employees will be enrolled in the diocesan pension plan, which is a defined contribution pension for employees, while eliminating liabilities for the employer.
Cemetery workers will also join the diocesan health care plan, with the diocese paying 100 percent of premiums and splitting dependent costs; so the savings and costs are shared by both parties as healthcare costs fluctuate.
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