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Marin Housing Authority employees win wage gains


May 19, 2024

The Marin Housing Authority board has approved a new contract with union employees following lengthy negotiations.

The Marin Housing Authority board has approved a new contract with union employees following lengthy negotiations.

Since the employees’ contract expired on Dec. 31, they have picketed the authority’s offices four times, confronted the authority’s commissioners at four board meetings and conducted a two-day strike.

About 33 of the authority’s employees — maintenance staff, case managers, program specialists, housing locators and administrative staff — are members of Service Employees’ International Union Local 1021.

“It really came down to the employees working with the residents and members of the community to show the Board of Commissioners and management how important these services are,” said Joel Evans-Fudem, a union field representative.

The new three-year contract features sizable raises and increased subsidies for health care.

“I’m very happy with it,” Evans-Fudem said. “It’s a major step forward for not only the employees but for Marin Housing Authority to be able to compete and recruit great workers.”

Kimberly Carroll, the housing authority’s director, told commissioners at a meeting on Tuesday that she is “really happy that we’ve been able to reach an agreement.”

Under the new memorandum of understanding, the employees will receive an immediate 6% wage increase. In addition, all union members hired on or before Jan. 1 will receive a one-time $2,000 lump sum payment at the end of the next full pay period. Evans-Fudem said the lump sum payment recognized the time that has elapsed since the contract expired.

“This contract should have been in place Jan. 1, 2024,” he said.

In the second two years of the agreement, union employees will receive a minimum 3% wage increase each year with the possibility of more depending on the level of funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in each of those years. The authority receives more than 90% of its funding from the federal government.

Evans-Fuden said the wage gains are less than half of the story.

“The health care subsidy is a leap forward for this agency,” he said. “All of a sudden health insurance is affordable for these employees, and dental, vision and life insurance are covered.”

The authority previously covered 100% of the cost for employees’ health care provided by Kaiser Permanente, but it only provided a partial subsidy, which was a fixed dollar amount, for family members.

Under the new contract, the authority has agreed to pay 90% of the additional cost of Kaiser coverage for one or more family members. It has also agreed to pay 100% of the cost for a Delta Dental plan premium for employees and eligible dependents and 100% of the cost for basic life insurance for employees.

Other new perks include an extra holiday for Juneteenth and improved bereavement leave, vacation payouts and tuition reimbursement policies.

“The cost of the salary and medical insurance increases over the term of the contract is approximately $1,200,000,” Carroll wrote in a report to the commissioners, who include the county supervisors.

“We have taken steps forward to make Marin Housing Authority an employer capable of attracting adequate levels of union staff,” said Ceena Ford, a program specialist with Marin Housing Authority.

“Our work is not over,” Ford said. “We will continue to work with the board to realize our shared vision of bringing back contracted out union jobs. Union staff know best how to serve Marin’s most vulnerable.”

Union members made the housing authority’s use of outside contractors an issue in the negotiations. The use of one contractor in particular, Nan McKay and Associates, received intense scrutiny.

During a meeting of the housing authority’s board on Jan. 30, a number of tenants complained that the company had mishandled their paperwork and erroneously sent them eviction notices. Some said the company required them to pay more rent than they were legally required to pay.

At the board meeting on Feb. 13, Carroll committed to doing her best to bring the work that McKay has been doing back in-house over the next 12 to 15 months. During Tuesday’s meeting, Kathleen Wyatt, the authority’s housing operations director, reported on progress made toward that goal.

“We’re very excited,” Wyatt said. “We’ve hired four new eligibility workers.”

Wyatt said the addition of the new eligibility workers, once they’re trained and certified, and the use of another consultant, will enable the authority to cut Nan McKay’s caseload of 3,000 households by 80% by November.

That didn’t satisfy Barbara Bogard of Mill Valley, a self-described “accomplice” of African American residents living in Golden Gate Village, the public housing complex in Marin City.

“So does that mean that Nan McKay will continue to carry 20% into the next year?” Bogard asked. “We’ve heard enough past and ongoing problems with Nan McKay to get rid of them, given the fact that there seems to be an alternative.”

The company did not respond to a request for comment.

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