Supervisors question Mayor Ed Lee’s police, fire ‘shield’ deal 

A deal Mayor Ed Lee struck with police and fire unions was not embraced Wednesday by two members of the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee, who expressed concerns about the cost to The City and why these public safety unions should enjoy protections from Public Defender Jeff Adachi’s Proposition D pension measure while the other city labor unions would not.

Police and fire have agreed to postpone when their raises would kick in this fiscal year and also to increase their pension contributions by 3 percent to save The City over two years $22 million, savings which were assumed in this year’s budget.

Included in the agreement is a provision that would shield police and fire from Adachi’s ballot measure for two years, should Adachi’s measure prevail over the “consensus” measure crafted by Lee, Proposition C.

Adachi said during the hearing that the shield provision takes away $61 million in savings should his measure pass. He also blasted the deal for giving wage hikes at a time when The City faces skyrocketing pension costs. The City is obligated to provide the wage hikes under the 2007 labor contract signed with police and fire under then Mayor Gavin Newsom, providing them with a 24 percent wage hike over four years.

“Public Defender Adachi believes if he tells you a lie often enough it will become the truth,” said Tom O’Connor, head of the Local 798 firefighters union said. “These concessions are very real concessions entered into by police officers and firefighters who reached into their own pocket to help pay for public safety. It is money coming out of their paychecks to make sure that every police station is staffed and every fire station is kept open.”

The committee sent the deal to the full board for a vote Tuesday without a recommendation to approve the deal. Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi said he wanted more information about the costs and Supervisor Jane Kim said she wanted to talk to other labor groups about how they feel about police and fire receiving protection from the Adachi measure. Kim said she felt “uncomfortable” about “barring the effects of Prop. D.” “To a certain extent it’s thwarting the will of the voters. And then the further inequities that we might create with our public service employee unions,” Kim said.

Supervisor Carmen Chu, who chairs the committee, praised the deal and at one point called its approval a “no brainer.”

“We have a measure that is all concessions, all the employees giving us back money that we would otherwise have to pay. And we are saying that we are not going to potentially approve that?” Chu said.

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