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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

City Workers: Furloughs Just More Fun than 37.5-Hour Week

Posted By on Wed, Mar 17, 2010 at 5:30 AM

click to enlarge Furlough_t_shirt.jpg
Earlier this week, the city and its public employee unions had what suffices for a breakthrough in this tense, broke town: The mayor agreed to postpone his mass layoff/reduced work week scheme for five days, and the unions pledged not to sue him over it.

Now everyone's going to start talking about how to save $100 million or so.

While the mayor hoped to liquidate tens of thousands of city workers and hire them back at reduced, 37.5-hour weeks, the unions are partial to furlough days. And why is this? Quite simply, furlough days are more fun than taking a half-hour off each day.

"You get the full day off," says Gus Vallejo, the IT workers' chapter president for Local 21. "If you have to take off the time, you may as well take the time in one big chunk. And our membership is open to that; we've gotten feedback from them."

Vallejo figured it might take at least "10 to 13" furlough days to start making a dent of the sort the mayor wants to make.

Carlos Rivera, the spokesman for the SEIU Local 1021 -- which represents about half the workers in this city -- also said his colleagues would likely prefer furloughs to a reduced work-week, though union-circulated surveys are still trickling in.

The most important thing to Rivera, however, is that whatever happens come about as a result of negotiations -- or lawsuits will follow.

"The mayor has a contract with [the unions]. He can't pick out 15,000 [workers], fire them, change the provisions of the hours they work, and then dump them back in their existing contract," said Rivera. "That's considered breach of contract."

Actually, the mayor contends he can do this. Reading the papers, the mayor of Las Vegas decided to see if he could do it, too. (it would be funny -- not funny ha-ha -- if Newsom's fire-a-thon is one of the truly few methods of San Francisco governance that catches on elsewhere and serves as a national model).  

Rivera confirmed that if the unions and mayor reach an impasse and Newsom decides to proceed as planned with the reduced-hour plan, they'll "absolutely" see him in court.

Looks like no one's bothered to furlough the lawyers.

Photo   |   Zazzle

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" is a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly, which he has written for since 2007. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers... more


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