Park Workers, District Reach Agreement

East Bay Park Workers  Anja Brey, water-quality professional for the East Bay Regional Park District, is among the employees benefitting from the agreement reached on Tuesday.
East Bay Park Workers Anja Brey, water-quality professional for the East Bay Regional Park District, is among the employees benefitting from the agreement reached on Tuesday.

Park Workers, District Reach Agreement

East Bay Regional Park District (EBPRD) workers will receive salary increases that will be on par with the median salary of similar Bay Area public agency employees after reaching an agreement with the EBPRD Board of Directors.

The new agreement was reached on Aug. 31 after eight months of negotiating, according to a press release from the People for East Bay Park Workers. Park workers voted to ratify the new contract on Sept. 1.

“By coming together, we’ve won an historic agreement to bring respect and fair pay to 600 hardworking people who proudly keep East Bay Parks clean, safe and open for all to enjoy,” said Chris Newey, who works as a park supervisor at Kennedy Grove Regional Recreation Area in El Sobrante.

Newey is also the president of the EBPRD workers’ union, AFSCME 2428. Park employees still worked while their previous deal expired months ago.

The deal calls for EBPRD’s workers to see a significant pay raise. For example, park rangers will get a 5.75 percent salary increase per year and more than 17 percent over the course of the three-year contract. Some Park rangers will get an additional $500 a month starting in November. The total value for the three-year agreement is more than $29 million over the contract’s duration, according to a press release.

“This is not only good for park workers, it’s also good for our communities,” said Ross Mitchell, who works with underserved youth at Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park in Oakland. “More money in the pockets of workers means more spending at small businesses, lifting up our local economies.”

The new deal comes after workers threatened to strike, which could have impacted Labor Day Weekend festivities at the park district’s 73 parks. Park employees were scheduled to hold a strike vote last weekend (“Park District Workers Vote on Strike,” Aug. 26). However, at an emergency district board meeting Thursday, Aug. 26, board members presented park workers with a new proposal, breaking the current impasse and returning both sides to the negotiating table. More than 250 park workers and supporters spoke during the meeting’s public comment section, dragging the meeting into the next morning. Park employees decided to suspend the strike vote while the two sides continued negotiating.

“We are grateful to the Park District’s new management and the Park Board for their leadership,” said Meadow D’Arcy, an administrative analyst for the parks. “They moved quickly and professionally to recognize the value of all of the people who make East Bay Parks the crown jewels of our region.”

Park employees demanded the board raise their pay to meet the median wage levels of similar workers within the region. The union hired Ralph Andersen & Associates (RAA), a human resource consulting firm, to compare their pay scale to similar employees at other Bay Area public agencies. The 2019 report proclaimed EBPRD employees made 10 percent less than people with similar positions in 16 other Bay Area agencies. This was while the park district reported a $26 million surplus in 2020 and $140 million in cash reserves and Wall Street holdings.

Park workers held a press conference Tuesday, Aug. 31 to announce the new agreement.

EBPRD parks are located in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Crown Memorial State Beach, Crab Cove Visitor Center and Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline Park are all part of the EBPRD.