Furlough deal could net city $7 million to ease deficit

More than 900 city employees will be required to take 10 mandatory unpaid days off during the next two years under a tentative agreement Mayor Gavin Newsom reached with one labor union to help balance the budget by saving The City $7 million.

The deal struck between The City and the Municipal Executives’ Association, which represents employees within city government in a management position, comes just days before the mayor is required to submit his proposed balanced budget for The City to the printer so it can be delivered to the Board of Supervisors by June 2.

The Mayor said he is hopeful other city unions will also “step up” and take cost-saving concessions. Other larger unions, however, are waiting until the mayor submits his proposed budget before they come to the negotiating table, according to one City Hall insider who did not want to be named.

Facing a projected budget deficit of $305 million for the coming fiscal year, which begins July 1, Newsom sent a letter to labor unions representing city workers asking them to renegotiate contracts and agree to cost reductions adding up to 3 percent. Newsom advised the unions to look at a variety of options including requiring mandatory unpaid workdays.

If the 12,562 city employees — including police and fire personnel — paid through The City’s general fund took four days off next year, The City could save as much as $26.5 million, according to the Controller’s Office.

The tentative agreement with the MEA will save The City nearly $4 million in the coming fiscal year and $3 million in fiscal year 2009-10, according to the Mayor’s Office.

Newsom said the agreements would reduce stress on the budget and would avoid cutting other nonprofit, health and human services and homelessness programs.

The Mayor’s Office also announced that unrepresented employees, including mayoral staff, will not receive a wage increase in next year’s budget. Additionally, The City came to an agreement for savings of 3 percent during the next two fiscal years with the Union of American Physicians and Dentists. The savings were reached through unpaid days off for doctors who work for The City and by reducing funding for training.

dsmith@sfexaminer.com

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