Layoffs seem inevitable again this year as the city struggles with a $110 million deficit. The question is, who will get lay off. Traditionally, seniority was the major factor for allowing people to keep their jobs. The city followed a last in, first out policy, but this was highly unpopular with residents, four-fifths of whom believe that on-the-job performance is a much better gauge of whether people should keep their jobs.
The Mayor and several City Council members agree for the most part. They want to include performance evaluations in the decision as to who gets laid off, arguing that this will help ensure that the city keeps the best possible people for the different jobs. Unions and many other City Councilmembers disagree, as do some veteran employees. They question the evaluation process as a whole, with one city employee stating, “My evaluation is more determined by who my supervisor is than how I performed the last 20 years.”
On Tuesday night, City Council voted unanimously to investigate the role of job performance more closely. Of course, this does not mean that any will be accepted. “I don’t want to lay off an employee who had a bad season,” says Councilmember Don Rocha.
City Manager Debra Figone adds that even if the city decides on new criteria for layoffs, it will be too late to implement it this year. This year, seniority will be the major criteria. What happens in the coming years will have to be worked out and obtain agreement from the unions and the Civil Service Commission.