Newsom implements shorter workweek, layoffs 

More than 15,000 city workers will receive pink slips Friday, but most will be rehired to work a 37.5-hour workweek instead of the current 40 hours, in a massive cost-cutting move.

Mayor Gavin Newsom is taking the bold step in an attempt to save $50 million as The City grapples with a $522 million budget shortfall for next fiscal year, which begins July 1. Newsom said he cannot  promise that The City would rehire all 15,000 employees, but he did say the intent is to rehire the “overwhelming majority.”

This would save The City’s general fund — which pays for police, fire and parks, et al. — $50 million while avoiding massive layoffs, Newsom said.

“The alternative is they might not have a job, and they have their health care and they still get paid more than any other county in the state of California,” he said. “I think that’s a pretty good deal.”

The shorter workweek equates to a 6.25 percent wage reduction, and it will affect city workers from legislative aides to street sweepers. There are some positions that will not be impacted, such as some hospital employees and tax collectors. The City, however, will still ask public safety departments, who are not included in the pink slips, for concessions equal to 6.25 percent.

Union leaders scoffed at the mayor’s plan, saying there are other cost-saving measures to consider, including furloughs.

“This is going to mean more lines, longer waits for appointments at public health,” said Carlos Rivera, spokesman for SEIU Local 1021, which represents 15,000 city workers. “Right now, people are already having difficulty getting appointments for health care services, and now with employees working 37.5 hours, it’s going to take even longer.”

Other union leaders bluntly called the mayor’s plan illegal.

“All the labor contracts require a 40-hour workweek. You cannot design a strategy to sidestep contracts,” said Bob Muscat, executive director of IFPTE Local 21, which represents 4,000 city workers.

Tony Winnicker, Newsom’s spokesman, said the City Charter gives the mayor the authority to take this action.

Newsom said he’s been waiting for labor unions to offer an alternative plan.

“I’m very concerned about the disruption to everyday workers and everyday services that people expect from The City if we are cutting back significantly on people’s pocketbooks, especially the lowest-income workers of The City,” Supervisor John Avalos said.

Examiner staff writers Joshua Sabatini and Katie Worth contributed to this report.

Trimming the deficit

Mayor Gavin Newsom is laying off city employees and rehiring some on a workweek shortened by 6.25 percent.

15,000 Employees who will receive layoff notices

40 hours Current workweek

37.5 hours Workweek for those employees who will be rehired

$50 million General fund savings the layoffs and reduced workweek will create

Source: Mayor’s Office

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