The Westside supervisor notes that the SEIU plan would cost the city more money in two ways. First of all, if workers are earning higher salaries -- which they would be via a 7 percent raise -- then they'll eventually be eligible for higher pensions, which last until their dying days.
Secondly, the money the city currently pays into the SEIU workers' pension fund is not taxed. But money paid to SEIU workers' salaries would be. Elsbernd said the Department of Human Resources is crunching the numbers as we speak -- but the ballpark price tag for the SEIU's proposition he's heard is the aforementioned $10 million annually. To use a simple, non-mathematical analogy, pension reform that actually costs the city more is like gaining weight on a diet.
"I'm frustrated," said the supervisor.
The SEIU also hopes to modify a plank of Elsbernd's plan sold as a means of staving off "pension spiking" -- when an employee earns a wage disproportionate to his or her lifetime salary in the final year of the job, thus triggering an artificially high pension. Currently, workers earn a percentage of their highest salary measured over a 12-month period. Elsbernd wants 36 months. The SEIU is pushing for 24 months. Haaland points out -- rightfully -- that pension-spiking is not really an SEIU issue.
Supervisor Eric Mar had proposed both of the "pro-labor" positions as amendments at today's meeting. He disagreed with Elsbernd that his amendment would cost the city money.
In other news, Elsbernd also yanked his proposed charter amendment that would have done away with Muni drivers' charter-enshrined right to earn the second-highest wage in the nation. He says he did this for three reasons: A. He was going to lose; B. The Transit Workers Union has come forward with cost-saving plans, but this charter amendment jeopardized their willingness to do so, and; C. While Elsbernd's plan wouldn't have started to reap any savings until 2011, the TWU's plan -- which we have not read -- may help immediately.
*Our original version of this story didn't note that two measures are going to the full board, not one.