City puts reduced week on hold 

The City stopped firing city workers and re-hiring them with a shorter workweek Monday as it enters into a weeklong negotiating session with labor union leaders opposed to the hour cuts.

Mayor Gavin Newsom on Monday agreed to a moratorium on firing and rehiring city workers so he can try and strike a deal with city labor unions to save The City $100 million.

In exchange, the unions have agreed not to move forward with filing grievances or pursuing a lawsuit against The City for implementing a 37.5-hour work week as part of the mayor’s plan to close a more than $520 million budget shortfall.

“What they needed from me was this breathing period and we agreed to that today,” Newsom said.

Union leaders plan to spend the next five days trying to convince Newsom that furlough days are a more labor-friendly way to save The City money, according to union officials. They are drafting a specific proposal for furloughs that they plan to present.

Newsom said he does support a furlough plan that closes down city government every other Friday, but he said he isn’t opposed to closing City Hall during the Christmas holiday. He will spend this week “processing” how much money that could save.

In addition, union leaders are asking The City to reduce the budget for contracting of service, said Bob Muscat, chair of the Public Employee Committee.

“We are talking about work city employees can do that is being contracted out,” Muscat said. “This is a critical issue, [but] it’s way too early to declare it a deal breaker.”

Newsom told The Examiner recently that contracting out is key to cutting the $522 million deficit The City’s operating budget is facing next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

If Newsom cannot reach a deal with the unions, The City will move forward with implementation of the reduced work week. More than 17,000 pink slips have been given to city employees, and the rehiring offers were set to begin March 22. However, that date has been pushed back a week due to the moratorium, said Tony Winnicker, Newsom’s spokesman.

And if The City does move on its plan, union leaders said they are preparing to file a lawsuit against The City on grounds that the mayor is violating union contracts.

Newsom noted that time is running out as he has a June 1 deadline to present a balanced budget to the Board of Supervisors, and has already spent the weekend at City Hall talking with union members.

“I’m a long way to getting it balanced,” Newsom said of the budget. “I need to get through this and then I have to figure out the number of layoffs, beyond this 37.5 proposal, to make up the difference.”

 

Trying to find middle ground

Mayor Gavin Newsom and labor leaders for The City’s unionized employees have agreed to meet this week in an attempt to negotiate terms that would lead to savings of $100 million in labor costs.

NEWSOM WANTS

  • 37.5-hour work week
  • Contracting out of some city services
  • Furloughs during the holidays

NEWSOM DOES NOT WANT

  • Furlough that would result in shutdown of government every other Friday

UNION LEADERS WANT

  • Furlough plan
  • Reduction in contracts for city services

UNION LEADERS DO NOT WANT

  • Reduction of work week by 2.5 hours
  • Additional outsourcing of city contracts

 

 

Playing a numbers game

26,000: City workers

More than 17,000: Workers who received pink slips

$522 million: Budget deficit for city’s operating budget

$100 million: Savings from the 37.5 hour work week

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