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Mayor to consider layoffs and furloughs

September 14, 2009 9:49:20 PM PDT
The deal is less than a year old, and the mayor himself helped negotiate it, but now the mayor says he can't support a plan that some are calling devastating.Meanwhile, the union coalition says the mayor has gone back on his word.

It was a compromise between city hall and a coalition of labor unions that represent more than 22,000 city employees. It includes maintenance workers, accountants and librarians, like Roy Stone.

"This is it, we've got an agreement, and I'm supportive of it, and now, all of a sudden, it just doesn't make sense," says Stone, president of the Librarian Guild.

In essence, the deal negotiated earlier this year would allow 2,400 members of the coalition to retire up to five years early. The employees would forgo scheduled pay increases, so long as the city would not resort to furloughs or layoffs.

But a new report from city staff shows that the plan would be unsustainable, and do little to close a $400 million budget gap.

"They got the report on Friday, and all of a sudden, this is it, this is what we have to do, so it's not well thought out, I'm disappointed in the mayor," says Stone.

In a statement issued today, the mayor said the reason he pulled back on the offer is simple economics.

"I can no longer support the early retirement incentive proposal or the tentative letter of agreement with the coalition of city unions," says the mayor in the statement.

The mayor says he will consider drastic measures, including furloughs for police officers and more than 900 layoffs.

But coalition members say the report cited by the mayor's office is flawed.

"You're not saving a huge amount of money. Retirement will save money immediately," explains Stone.

"As soon as you pass this, and as soon as this goes forward, there's going to be lots of people who are going to say, 'I'm out the door." As soon as people are out the door, they're off the payroll," he adds.

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