Aim city job cuts for 2012

By July 8, 2011

I would like record a correction regarding my support for $2.5 million in personnel savings. In an article published online Thursday (but edited for print Friday), I was incorrectly described as saying that “cutting $2.5 million from personnel costs could have ‘disastrous effects,’ especially if the savings are reached by laying off employees.”

In fact, I supported cutting $2.5 million from personnel costs, and I made a motion to cut $2.5 million in personnel costs. The difference between my motion and the motion that passed is that my motion was aimed at a somewhat later implementation date — next July 1, to be exact.

The difference was one of timing. My concern is that our labor contracts don’t expire June 30, 2011. We don’t have many options for making major personnel cost cuts other than layoffs or contract adjustments. Any “reorganizations” will require layoffs if they are to save personnel costs. Staffing changes in the Fire Department likely will take at least a year to implement and retirements will only help to the extent that they are in positions that are not critical to the organization.

Layoffs are the least reasonable approach to labor savings for both reasons of compassion and because they will lead to severe levels of service reduction. Also important is the fact that, even if we wanted to save costs through layoffs, we would not be allowed to lay off employees according to our organizational needs; we are required to follow least seniority rules.

I support any savings in personnel that we can reasonably achieve this year, but I think we should set our $2.5 million goal to be effective next July. That would allow us deal with needed structural changes within the context of our collective bargaining obligations.

For years, I have been arguing that structural changes are needed to bring our compensation practices roughly in line with those of state and university employees. We can achieve the needed savings through this mechanism along with eventual staffing changes, but we must follow labor law. Hence, a July 2012 goal made more sense to me.

Sue Greenwald

Davis City Council member, Davis

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