For the last two years, all we’ve seen and heard from our City Council is tears and pleas to save the jobs of city workers or at the least to shelter them from losses caused by a government that costs too much and delivers too little.
All through this period, they undermined the Engineers and Architects to aid the SEIU in its raid on the white-collar professional union, actions taken in gratitude for the blue-collar unions generous campaign contributions.
Now, with the mayor sounding like a corporate executive demanding city unions make concessions, the EAA is now back in the good graces of the City Hall power structure.
The 4,800-member EAA has agreed to pay a greater share of soaring health care costs in exchange for reducing furlough days from 26 to 10 this year — an action denounced by the SEIU as a sell-out of union interests and urges EAA members to reject the deal.
How much money this actually saves is far from clear. It’s certainly a lot less than what city officials are seeking from the unions: 10 percent contribution to health care costs, 10 percent reduction in payroll costs and an increase to 9 percent toward pensions.
All this is coming very late in the day with billions of dollars in budget deficits looming in the next few years and so much time spent cooking the books instead of sitting down and facing the harsh financial realities.
The result of the mayor and Council’s bungling of the budget mess is that they have cut worthless deals and now don’t the credibility to negotiate honest ones.
After so many phony deals, most union leaders can’t go back to their members now and tell them the truth that the only way out of this mess to protect their jobs and public services is to make significant concessions.
So the union leaders bluster and foment anger and resentment, inching toward the moment of truth when they call for a strike vote.
What choice do they have? After years of getting their own way, city workers think their high pay and lucrative benefits are an entitlement. They see the mayor and Council as betraying the deals they have cut. Many have lost confidence in their own union leadership.
City officials could impose various costs on their own by declaring an impasse in negotiation which would leave the unions to act.
“The only recourse will be to STRIKE: to disrupt the City’s work so much that the mayor and Council surrender,” the EAA said on its website.
For their part, the mayor and Council have lost all credibility with the unions and the public by their failure to deal with the city’s financial problems.
Unions at war with each other, workers discontented with their leaders, elected officials without credibility or backbone and most unions refusing to budget — all those factors come together to create a scenario for months of conflict and the risks of strikes or other job actions.
This is no way to run a city, the fruit of years of poor leadership and sweetheart contracts. The public already is paying the bill with libraries and parks closing and many basic services being slashed.
It will only get worse unless dramatic changes are made.