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Friday, March 5, 2010

Pink Slip Friday's Discontents Grumble as 15,000 City Workers Laid Off

Posted By on Fri, Mar 5, 2010 at 11:30 AM

click to enlarge Jetson! You're LAID-OFF! And now you're back at 37.5 hours!
  • Jetson! You're LAID-OFF! And now you're back at 37.5 hours!
A powwow of city workers almost literally circled the wagons this morning; the street sweeper truck was pulled behind a phalanx of Parking Control Officer vehicles. The highlighter-jacketed operators spilled out onto the street. And even from 40 yards away, the heavy intonations and vehement head-nodding made it clear what they were talking about. They were, to put it mildly, peeved that at the end of their shifts, a pink slip would be waiting for them.

Mayor Gavin Newsom has described today's mass layoff as a "pro-labor" cost-saving measure; roughly 15,000 city workers will be dismissed and then rehired at 37.5 hour work weeks. The cost savings for the city are estimated at $50 million. An unknown number of workers will be laid off permanently.

The city employees in this impromptu klatch weren't buying it. "It's a bullshit game," said a street-sweeper. "If they could see this [financial situation] coming with all their audits, why'd they keep spending?" He nodded at his exceptionally shiny vehicle. "Why'd they keep spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on new trucks and stuff?"

A Parking Control Officer stepped forward. Why, he asked, hasn't there been a crackdown on workers who take their city cars home to Santa Rosa, Marin, or Fairfield? Why pick on the little guys in the neon vests?

"The chief is doing all right, but it's the indians who are getting shot," he said.

Not that the union workers expected any different from Newsom. "He has too many advisers," said one. "He's a dead fish, politically," announced another. "This is his last stand. I guess this is Newsom's Alamo."

The street-sweeper was probably the most miffed of all. He saw today's pink slips as the first step back toward breaking specialized workers out of their niches and putting them into more generalized positions. This, he said, would lead to those who toadied to management getting the plum assignments, with troublemakers getting the dirtywork.

"I have sustained a very serious medical injury becuase of this job," he said. Regarding his looming pink slip, he answered, "How would you feel after 20-plus years of service?"

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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" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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