“Thanks to all who supported City workers and union efforts!”

by on April 22, 2009 · 4 comments

in Civil Disobedience, Civil Rights, Economy, Labor, Organizing, San Diego

Editor: Anna Daniels, one of our bloggers, also works for the City of San Diego as a librarian.  As a librarian she is a member of the Municipal Employees Association (MEA) – her union. She files this report:

Just an FYI. I voted this morning to approve our MEA union two year contract. The results aren’t in but I suspect it will pass. It includes over one week of mandatory unpaid furlough, a 3% pay reduction or an equal reduction in our supplemental pension. (Note: City workers don’t receive Social Security. We get a defined retirement benefit through the City and a supplemental pension. We pay into both and have always paid into both. The City has provided match on the supplemental pension and also pays into our retirement.) Needless to say, there are no salary or benefit increases during this two year period.

The unclassified, non-union represented staff will also take a 6% cut. These are high level administrative positions in the departments. I raised this issue in an earlier posting and promised to clarify this point.

Having a job is indeed a good thing. Avoiding layoffs of productive people is also a good thing. Now we shall see what happens in the weeks and months ahead… The budget process is not over. The IBA (office of Independent Budget Analysis) will release its report, the City Council will hold public hearings on the budget (the Mayor has thus far presented his proposed budget)and the end result may or may not be what we’ve seen so far.

Another important point is the portrayal of salaries and benefits of City workers as the “obstacle” to keeping police and fire service and parks and rec and libraries open.

To put this in perspective, the total City budget is $3.01 BILLION. http://www.sandiego.gov/fm/proposed/ The General Fund budget supports Police (36.3% of proposed budget), Public Works (18.8%), Fire-Rescue(17.5%), Park and Rec (7.7%) and Libraries (3.3% DEAD LAST. As usual). The General Fund Budget totals $1.15 BILLION. It also includes Office of the ASSISTANT Chief Operating Officer (2.75%- not much less than a 35 branch library system!), Office of the Mayor and Chief Operating Officer, Office of the Chief of Staff, Office of Homeland Security and Public Utilities. So many Chiefs and so few… …well…you know. Most of us get involved on General Fund issues. Park & Rec. Libraries. Police. Fire. Streets. From the citizen’s perspective, this is where the rubber hits the road.

These are “labor intensive” departments. Think lifeguards, police, fire-rescue, the person who provides story time to your kids, repairs broken pipes in your street. These are human beings. Which is to say you simply can’t have a facility or a piece of equipment- a fire truck, a life guard station, a library, a recreation center, a patrol car or a trash truck without human beings providing those services. These services are not volunteer operated and people do and should get paid.

City of San Diego word processor. PHOTO: San Diego CityBeat

There is a whole other part to the budget, which includes $1.38 BILLION for the City’s Enterprise Fund and $480.7 Million for Capital Improvements.

I hope you are asking- “Gee, what are Enterprise Funds?” If you are, you get extra civic points. These funds are intended to be fully self-supporting and include Water, MetroWastewater, Development Services, Refuse Disposal and Recycling. Did you say “DUH?” I’m with you. I will continue on this topic at a later date…

Here’s a link to A Citizens’ guide to the budget provided by the Office of Independent Budget Analysis (IBA) http://www.sandiego.gov/iba/pdf/bpguide.pdf This office is truly the citizen’s friend.

Thanks to all of you who have supported City workers and union efforts.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

annagrace April 22, 2009 at 10:56 pm

Author’s note: I am not a Librarian. Librarian status requires a Masters in Library/Information Science. I am a Library Assistant. My salary, unadjusted for the pending contract ratification and salary/benefit reduction, is $49,000/yr. Here’s the Library department section which includes salaries http://www.sandiego.gov/fm/proposed/pdf/vol2/20v2lib.pdf Many of us are part time benefited employees. I have chosen to work half time (and collect half the salary of course) for 25 years. Not all employees in my profession have had the choice, however, of full time work, and there is yet another group of hourly employees, working less than 20 hours a week and therefore not qualifying for benefits. The hourly workers include librarians, library assistants and aides.


annagrace April 23, 2009 at 7:09 am

Got word this morning that our MEA union members overwhelmingly ratified the 2 year contract outlined above. We have done our part to address the budget deficit and will make the necessary sacrifices. What has never been “negotiable” is our commitment to serving citizens.


lane tobias April 23, 2009 at 9:16 am

thank you for your transparency and detail Anna. It helps those of us who are extremely interested in the current budget discussion but do not have the first hand knowledge. You are a gem!


Fstued April 28, 2009 at 11:28 am

Thanks Anna. The union voting to approve the contract even with a major finacial hit shows that they care about their City, San Diego. It takes people like you to make it operate and it certainly wouldn’t, couldn’t operate with the City, public works employees. Like MEA says “Nobody does it Better”


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