MARTINEZ -- Central Contra Costa Sanitary District employees on Thursday said public safety could be at risk because more than two dozen experienced managers have left the agency, fearing pension cuts.
David Rolley, president of Public Employees Union Local No. 1, said Thursday's news conference wasn't related to protracted contract negotiations with the district. However, he claimed at least 25 employees, ranging from a laboratory superintendent to a principal engineer, have retired or left Central San for other jobs in the past year because the district wants employees to pay part of their retirement contribution.
"We're concerned they've let the agency deteriorate and let all these people leave," Rolley said. " We're concerned we might have trouble carrying out our mission, and that is to protect the environment and the public health."
Rolley said new hires are less experienced, meaning more work for veteran employees and increased risk of accidents and sewage spills.
District spokesman Michael Scahill acknowledged that Central San is streamlining its management structure. But he rejected the union's charge that the operation is unsafe.
"All of the safety measures are in place," Scahill said. There's not been a loss of people to ensure that, both for the public and the safety of the employees."
For 10 months, Central San has been trying to reach agreement on a five-year contract with the union, which represents about 145 employees. Currently, the district pays workers' health care premiums and the full 7 percent employee contribution to the Contra Costa County Employees' Retirement Association. The district wants employees to pay an average 6.5 percent, phased in over the life of the contract. The two parties are in mediation.
Lisa P. White covers Martinez and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.