Negotiations between The City and its labor unions are only a few weeks old but they are already heating up in a very public way after Mayor Ed Lee asked employees for wage concessions and to pay more for their health care.
The unions are not only denouncing the requested concessions but demanding pay hikes instead.
“Right now it’s an unbridgeable gap,” said Larry Bradshaw, vice president of Local 1021 of the Service Employees International Union.
Labor leaders said The City is asking for a 2.7 percent wage concession for next fiscal year in the form of furlough days. In addition, The City is asking employees to pay more for health insurance, including no longer picking up the total monthly premium for single employees using two of the three offered health insurance plans.
A two-minute video opposing Lee’s proposed labor cuts was posted online by Local 21 of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, along with a petition to pressure Lee to “withdraw your concessionary demands.” About 1,000 of the local’s 4,000 professionals have signed the petition.
Local 21 recently proposed a 3.2 percent pay raise for its members; Local 1021 is expected to seek a larger one.
For Lee, the challenge is not only to close a $170 million deficit next fiscal year, but also to create long-term financial stability. By the 2015-16 fiscal year, The City projects a $495 million deficit.
Labor leaders say city workers have given up enough in recent years and that The City should look to wealthy corporations like banks and commercial real estate to generate additional revenue.
Members of Local 1021, the largest city employee union, which represents about 13,000 workers, plan to march and rally outside of One South Van Ness, near Bank of America, on Thursday denouncing the pay cuts and healthcare increases. Expect life-sized images of the region’s wealthy CEOs. It comes as labor talks resume with city negotiators on Thursday and Friday.
Local 21 seemingly takes aim at Lee’s effort to cast himself as a less divisive leader than past mayors.
“The mayor, who we like and who we look forward to working with, is starting out by continuing the practice of former San Francisco mayors, by looking to us first to make sacrifices rather than looking for smart reductions in other growing areas of the budget,” labor leader Tedman Lee said in the video.
But the Mayor’s Office said labor reductions are necessary.
“Because we are still projecting deficits over the next few years, we are not out of the woods,” Lee’s spokeswoman Christine Falvey said, nonetheless acknowledging an uptick in the local economy. “We must think in terms of health care and pension reforms to get back to the structural balance we need to see in our City's budget.”
|Fiscal year||Deficit Projection|
Source: City Controller Five Year Financial Plan