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The city of San Diego and its blue-collar employees reached a tentative agreement on a new one-year contract last night, a union official said, sparing the city the acrimony that came after wage cuts were forced on workers last year.

The tentative deal includes no changes to employee wages or pensions and allows the union to participate in on-going discussions about the future of the city’s retiree health care benefit, said Damian Tryon, business representative for the union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 127.

“It’s a hard time all around,” Tryon said. “I think our members do understand that. There’s a really bad economic situation across the country and the city’s finances aren’t adding up.”

Last year, city unions took the equivalent of a 6 percent wage cut. But the City Council forced those cuts on its police union and the blue-collar union. Blue-collar employees primarily took the cut through their increased payments toward retirement benefits. The union has a complaint pending at the state labor board about last year’s negotiations.

Tryon praised city negotiators for being more responsive to the union’s proposals.

“A lot of issues that were rushed through last year were able to be explained and there was more attention to detail this time around,” he said.

But he urged city leaders to look for permanent solutions to the city’s unending budget crises beyond cuts on the backs of employees.

The contract needs approval of City Council and the union’s members.

Update: The city sent me a copy of the tentative agreement. It’s here. One other important bit of context, too. As part of the final deal, the union has agreed to drop its complaint before the state labor board on last year’s contract negotiations. Also, the union has agreed to drop a second complaint related to contracting out certain services pending a clarification of city rules.

— LIAM DILLON

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