At last night’s City Council meeting, Mayor Chuck Reed asked all city employees to accept a 10 percent cut to their salaries. Without this, he said, either 450 workers will have to be laid off, or hours at the city’s parks, libraries, and community centers would be “cut dramatically.” Though some City Councilmembers countered with a sliding scale proposal, the Mayor’s request received the Council’s support by a vote of 8-3. The proposed cut would affect all city workers, including police officers and firefighters.
Though many residents spoke out at the meeting in support of the pay cut, city employees and their union representatives were unhappy about the news. Yolanda Cruz of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Union complained that the city was trying to “balance the entire budget deficit on the backs of city employees.” The Mayor countered that the city spent $138 million on its employees’ retirement benefits this year, and that this is expected to go up by another $53 million next year.
Though the final budget will only be decided in June, last night’s vote empowers the City Manager to begin negotiating with the eleven employee unions that represent city workers. Several of the unions’ spokespeople have already suggested that they will strike if the city carries through with the Mayor’s plan.
Read More at ABC 7.