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The city of San Diego and the union that represents its attorneys are deadlocked on the major retiree health care deal signed by other labor groups last week.

The deadlock, announced today by the city, means that the city attorneys are at risk of receiving lower benefits than what the city’s white-collar, fire and lifeguard unions have accepted.

Mayor Jerry Sanders’ final offer gives attorneys eligible for retirement before July 2012 an $8,800 annual benefit without any cost of living increase. The others would receive a $5,500 annual benefit with no cost of living increase and raise the age at which the benefit kicks in to 60.

The deal negotiated with other employee groups allows for an $8,800 annual benefit with a cost of living increase for employees close to retirement and a smaller annual benefit or lump sum payment for younger employees.

The attorneys’ final offer has a higher benefit for employees hired before 2005. Most surprisingly, its offer adds a benefit for those hired afterward. Currently, no employees hired after 2005 have retiree health care aside from a very small benefit given to employees hired after 2009.

Unless the attorneys’ agree in the meantime, the City Council is scheduled to break the deadlock on Friday afternoon by accepting Mayor Jerry Sanders’ final offer, the city attorneys’ final offer or directing Sanders’ negotiating team back to the bargaining table.

Rachel Laing, a spokeswoman for Sanders, said the Mayor’s Office had “no reason to believe” the council won’t impose the mayor’s final offer. If it does, the city will achieve more savings than it already has. Sanders said the deal negotiated last week will save $323 million off the city’s $1.1 billion unfunded liability and a cumulative $714 million over 25 years.

George Schaefer, president of the city attorneys’ union, told me this morning that his union wasn’t deadlocked with the city even though a memo announcing the deadlock was sent to the council earlier today. He said his union was meeting again with the city on Wednesday.

“We haven’t made a decision,” Schaefer said.

According to the proposed 2012 budget, the city attorneys’ union represents about 135 employees, making it the city’s second smallest.

Laing said she still expected the city’s blue-collar union would sign health care deal soon. The police union, which has fought over health care in court, remains in negotiations.

Please contact Liam Dillon directly at liam.dillon@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5663 and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/dillonliam.

Liam Dillon

Liam Dillon was formerly a senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He led VOSD’s investigations and wrote about how regular people...

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