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Part-timers proposal shocks city workers

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Union members said Tuesday they were blindsided by Mayor Gavin Newsom’s proposal to shorten the workweek for 12,000 city employees, but he defended his proposal, explaining it as a creative way to avoid a mass of layoffs next year.

“Workers of San Francisco are quite angry,” said Damita Davis-Howard, president of SEIU Local 1021, which represents 14,000 workers. “They woke up [this] morning to discover the mayor wanted to cut salaries by 6.25 percent. There were no details and no one knew if it would be them.”

Newsom called for a meeting with labor unions Tuesday, the day after his office circulated a memo to city department heads outlining a plan to reduce workweeks from 40 hours to 37.5 hours.

Under the plan, The City would lay off workers and rehire them as part-time employees. It would generate as much as $50 million in savings as San Francisco, which employs 26,000 workers, needs to close a $522 million budget gap for the next fiscal year.

“We are proposing to keep people employed by changing the workweek to part-time status,” Newsom said. “We cannot tax our way out and we cannot borrow our way out.”

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But the plan is the same budget blueprint the union rejected last year when Newsom asked them for $50 million in cuts, Davis-Howard said.

“This is a boomerang that keeps coming back,” she said.

Newsom acknowledged the budget proposal is draconian, but he said it’s the lesser of two evils.

“I think a much worse idea is thousands of layoffs,” Newsom said. “If they disagree and they have a better idea, then I’m all ears.”

The mayor must present a balanced budget to the Board of Supervisors by June 1.



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