Union leaders representing city workers accused Mayor Gavin Newsom of using public employees as his “personal ATM” when it comes to balancing the budget.
Specifically, members of SEIU Local 1021 are upset that the Mayor has proposed to offer tax breaks to local businesses while asking city workers to swallow cuts.
Members of SEIU Local 1021 are still considering the Mayor’s proposal for 37.5 hour work weeks for city employees. This would translate into a $50 million savings for The City which is faced with a $522 million budget deficit.
On Tuesday, Newsom made two tax break proposals for businesses, one that would offer a one-time $2,000 payroll tax break to businesses with 20 to 49 employees who prove they are complying with The City’s employee health mandate. The second proposal would offer businesses a payroll tax break if they grow their business by hiring unemployed people over a two-year period. This plan would cost The City less than $45 million.
The Health Security Ordinance was tabled while the payroll tax exemption will be discussed again at a future committee meeting.
The City’s economist has said Newsom’s tax break proposal will mean more cuts to city services and workers, something that doesn’t sit well with union members.
“We get really upset when he is giving tax breaks to the business community,” said Carlos Rivera, spokesman for SEIU Local 1021, which represents 14,000 city workers. “When it comes to the deficit everyone across the board should help out. What he has been doing is focusing on SEIU 1021 and working families in San Francisco and he needs to break away from that.”
But Newsom, who met with union representatives yesterday, says he is waiting for members to propose an alternative that’s more suitable to them yet still saves the same amount of money.
“They point fingers at every other effort that might impact the budget but what is also important to the Mayor is the 41,700 San Franciscans who are in need of a job,” said Tony Winnicker, Newsom’s spokesman. “The engine of job creation is the private sector.”