The jobs are back.
A day after all seemed lost, Contra Costa County and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 512 inked a deal late Wednesday, ending an impasse that blocked the county's bid to run a state health exchange call center with new 205 jobs.
The call center staff will help Californians enroll in health coverage as required in the federal Affordable Care Act.
With State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, acting as a mediator during a conference call on Wednesday afternoon, the union backed away from a 12.75 percent pay differential for the six permanent supervisors under its umbrella. The starting pay is $55,747 a year and tops out at $71,848 a year plus benefits.
In return, the county will create a new job classification and hire people who apply for the positions rather than shift current county employees.
AFSCME vehemently opposed involuntary transfers on the grounds that their members could be forced into longer commutes and extended work hours -- the center will operate 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Mondays through Saturdays.
"The people who will do these jobs will know what they are getting into," said AFSCME Council 57 spokeswoman Cheryl Brown. "We're thrilled. We want and need jobs in Contra Costa County. This could have been done weeks ago. It was ridiculous to be put in this situation."
Contra Costa Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg, who participated in the conference call as the board chairman, said he was "ecstatic."
"The big thing for me and the board was to get those jobs in Contra Costa," Glover said. "It is an opportunity to stimulate the economy."
The board of supervisors on Tuesday had unanimously rejected the state contract, saying it couldn't proceed without deals from all four unions that will represent the new workers.
The county's vote on the state contract is set to go back before the board on March 19, where supervisors will also resume site deliberations over proposals from Richmond and Concord. Both cities are vying to land the call center contract and the jobs that come with it.