More than a decade of demonizing public employees in San Diego appeared to be coming to close yesterday, with the announcement of a tentative deal between the City and six labor unions.
Previous administrations have exploited concerns over pension indebtedness and budgetary shortfalls caused by the great recession, using city employees as a public whipping boy for political gain.
One need look no further that former Mayor Jerry Sanders’ refusal to negotiate with the Police Officer’s Association during the Proposition B campaign to understand just how egregious these political games have been for everybody except a small group of politicians.
The proposed labor pacts will save taxpayers $60 million in pension plan payments in the first three years, according to Mayor Filner. You know it was a big deal because the press release coming from the Mayor’s office had three, count ‘em, three, exclamation points in the headline.
“This is the first time the City has ever achieved five-year agreements with any labor organization, and to achieve this with all six labor organization is historic,” the Mayor said. “This is a great day for taxpayers, for employees, for the City and for the City’s retirement system. We are going to use the money that would have gone to the pension fund on services, infrastructure repair and reducing our reliance on one-time funds to balance the budget.”
The five-year agreements would comply with Proposition B’s restrictions on pensionable pay increases, meaning any increases in compensation will not impact San Diego’s pension obligations.
“This deal accomplishes exactly what Proposition B had set out to accomplish when it was chaptered into the City’s Charter on July 20, 2012,” the Mayor said. “Even if it is struck down by the courts, we have accomplished the promised $1 billion savings!”
Here’s a copy of the deal. City employees are granted the right to re-open discussions about additional pay increases after the first three years have passed. After ratification by each labor organization, the contracts will be presented to the City Council for ratification.
This is an excerpt from Doug Porter’s daily column “The Starting Line” at San Diego Free Press.