Members of the police and firefighters unions are about to decide whether to approve wage and pension deals struck between their leaders and Mayor Ed Lee.
The mayor counted on the pacts’ delayed raises and increased pension contributions to help close the $306 million budget deficit in his 2011-12 budget. If union members reject the deals, both departments would be forced to make cuts, most likely in the form of layoffs.
For police, the verdict comes Saturday. Members of the Police Officers Association are voting until then.
Their deal, if approved, would result in a 3 percent pay increase retroactive to July 1 and delaying 2 percent of a required salary increase until March in exchange for a 3 percent increase in their pension contributions for two years. The pension increase would expire
July 1, 2013, when employee contributions would either revert back to the current 7.5 percent or be replaced with a floating rate under Lee’s November pension ballot measure.
Firefighters are expected to vote July 21 on the agreement, which resembles the police pact except that 1 percent of their required raise would be delayed. The agreement also would ensure that contracts are not reopened until July 1, 2015, locking in existing provisions and health benefits.
By deferring wage hikes and increasing pension contributions, the Mayor’s Office said the deal would generate $31 million in savings over two years.
Pension reformer and Public Defender and Jeff Adachi is expected to publicly criticize the agreement today. With the wage hikes, he said pension costs would increase by $127 million over 10 years.
“To me it’s mind-boggling they would increase The City’s pension costs and liability,” Adachi said.
Adachi is leading an effort to place a pension measure on the November ballot that would compete with Lee’s. Adachi said Tuesday he has already collected 60,000 signatures and expects to have 65,000 by Monday, the deadline for submitting his measure. It takes 46,559 valid signatures to place a measure on the ballot.
Fire union chief Tom O’Connor defended the pact.
“We’re doing this to show we are dedicated to the pension reform,” he said. “We’re really being Boy Scouts here. It’s killing me [that] he’s vilifying us here.”
Mayor Ed Lee says his deals with the police and fire unions would save $31 million over two years. Here’s how they work:
- July: Officers and firefighters each receive 3 percent pay raises and agree to defer a portion of their contractual raises
- July: Officers’ and firefighters’ pension contributions increase by 3 percent to 10.5 percent
- March: Officers receive 2 percent of their wage increase they agreed to delay; firefighters receive 1 percent they agreed to delay
- July 2013: Officers’ and firefighters’ pension contribution rate hike of 3 percent eliminated; labor contracts extended for additional two years to July 1, 2015, locking in existing provisions
Sources: Police Officers Association, Fire Fighters Local 798