County Negotiations Update - Aug. 8, 2019

Dear OCEA member,

Your OCEA bargaining team met for 5 hours on Thursday, Aug. 7. Last week, we updated the membership that the team has been engaged in analysis and research regarding retiree health care. This analysis has required OCEA to retain an actuarial firm and other experienced professionals.

The County currently administers a retiree medical grant program that eligible retirees can use to help cover the cost of County-offered health insurance. The current program has many drawbacks, including the fact that it is unvested (the County can terminate it with little notice). Further, the program can’t be used for most medical expenses, but solely to offset the cost of one specific item – County-offered health insurance. Working collaboratively, we are evaluating alternative approaches to funding retiree health care costs that are more secure and cover a far wider range of health care costs.

Since our last formal negotiations session on Wednesday, May 22nd, there has been a flurry of activity towards achieving a comprehensive agreement. These activities have included meetings with County Executives, briefings with all members of the Board of Supervisors (and their staffs), updates with the County negotiations team, multiple worksite meetings, and bi-weekly briefings of our workplace leaders.

Today, the bargaining team met to discuss some early findings and appropriate next steps towards reaching a satisfactory agreement. The team engaged in discussions about County proposals, took informal votes on OCEA positions, and gave additional authorization to continue to engage in discussions regarding retiree medical care. Make no mistake, the OCEA bargaining team is committed to an agreement that has base-building wages and does not have any takeaways.

There is no definitive timeline to when negotiations will be completed. We hope to achieve a fair agreement as soon as possible. However, we will not rush into an agreement that does not fulfill our primary objectives.

Our workplace leaders will come together on Thursday, August 15 for our monthly OCEA Steward meeting. If you want to get more involved with how you can help your union during negotiations, please go to

In Solidarity,

Charles Barfield
OCEA General Manager
Lead Negotiator

Publication Date: August 8, 2019