Shorter workweek pitched to help close deficit 

Thousands of city workers could be laid off and rehired as part-time employees under a budget proposal the Mayor’s Office is exploring to help close a $522 million shortfall next fiscal year.

On Monday, the Mayor’s Office released a memo to department heads that outlined a draft plan to shorten workweeks for the majority of The City’s 26,000 employees from 40 hours to 37.5 hours a week.

Mayor Gavin Newsom has not officially endorsed the plan, but it could generate $50 million and save jobs at a time when The City is expecting a $40 million loss in revenue from the state, Newsom spokesman Tony Winnicker said.

“It’s a significant proposal,” Winnicker said. “We have to explore unprecedented steps to close that gap.”

At this point, police and fire employees would be exempt from the proposal, Winnicker said. The Fire and Sheriff’s departments are required to have a minimum staffing level mandated by voters. As for police, he said it doesn’t make sense to include them in the restructuring proposal because it could end up costing more money and impacting public safety.

Newsom will begin meeting with city labor unions during the next few days to discuss the latest proposal. Meanwhile, department heads were asked to look at how shortening workweeks would affect their day-to-day business.

Winnicker pointed out that it’s essentially only cutting each workday back by 30 minutes.

“We expect departments should be able to manage their existing work force in part-time positions,” he said.

Winnicker said the mayor remains open to alternatives to help close the massive budget gap. Newsom has until June 1 to submit a balanced budget to the Board of Supervisors for approval.

In response to the plan, Supervisor Sean Elsbernd said, “Everything needs to be on the table to close the deficit.”

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