In a heartwarming show of concern for the well-being of the city and their fellow employees, the city’s labor unions have all agreed to forfeit 2 percent of their pay in 2009 to avoid layoffs. This gracious act on the part of the employees comes on top of an expenditure of 2 percent rainy day funds, and an additional 2 percent or so savings from hiring freezes (in which retiring employees are not replaced) and from reductions in discretionary capital expenditures (deferred work on buildings, roads, etc). Together, these steps essentially make up the 6 percent shortfall that we were predicting for 2009 when we met a month ago.
It’s possible, however, that the loss of Joe’s Sports and other business casualties of the recession could cause our 2009 shortfall to increase further. If so, I would push to dip deeper into the rainy day fund, as the employees have made enough sacrifices already this year. In a discussion with Mayor Law yesterday, he said this was his sentiment as well.
With this agreement by the unions, the entire City of Renton workforce will be accepting 2 percent less than their budgeted salaries this year, including fire fighters, police officers, parks officials, librarians, road crews, directors, elected officials…everyone…
The 2 percent salary reduction saves the city about 1.2 million dollars. The layoff avoidance will save taxpayers additional money when good times return, as it is very expensive to replace skilled employees. The cost of recruiting, interviewing, screening, orienting, relocating, and training new workers can easily amount to a half year’s salary, and new employees can not perform to the same efficiency as experienced workers. So, by helping keep all our employees aboard, the unions will have enabled us to keep costs down when good times return, and the city resumes it’s approximate three to five percent annual population growth.
Furthermore, any additional job reductions right now would just weigh further on the local economy, as surplussed workers would transition from paying into the unemployment system and and other safety nets, and instead draw from these systems. Every job saved helps save us all from additional financial strain.
You can read more about this story in the Renton Reporter by clicking here
I wish to express my sincere thanks to our labor unions for taking this generous step to help their fellow workers and the community.