“it’s just not enough,” said Sam Liccardo. The city councilmember was talking about the deal that the city reached with the firefighters union, Local 230, which includes a 10 percent salary cut and some additional cuts to benefits, and the introduction of a two-tiered retirement system. Licccardo, the Mercury News reports, is concerned about the impact this would have on the city’s deficit, currently estimated to be about $105 million.
On one hand, the deal could be cited by other unions in negotiations with the city. On the other hand, if all city workers reached a similar agreement with city officials, the impact on the deficit would be just $38 million. The remaining $67 million would still have to be covered, and that would mean even more deep layoffs. Nor would it solve the problem for future years. Next year, for instance, pension costs are expected to make up at least half of the city’s deficit.
Jeff Welch, President of Local 230, said he was “bewildered” by Liccardo’s suggestion, especially after such work was put into the deal. He said Liccardo was “grandstanding,” in the hope that he would be able to eventually run for mayor.
Current Mayor Chuck Reed, however, is supportive of the firefighters, and says that the agreement should not be touched. Though he agrees with Liccardo’s math, he says that this is a “done deal,” and that the city should move on to negotiations with the city’s remaining unions. Half of them already said that they would be willing to reach the same agreement with the city that the firefighters’ union did.
Then Liccardo spoke up, intimidating many of those other unions. Two have left the negotiating table, while three more have said that 10 percent is their final offer. The Police Officers Association is posing challenges of its own, with Reed warning that the talks may end with arbitration.
As the budget deadline ticks away, the city is facing growing challenges from its municipal workers.