|Dismantling Tomorrowland (or Killing Workers' Future)|
Union bosses and San Francisco executives met in the mayor’s office last week to collaborate on the dismantling of city employees’ pensions and health benefits. A similar meeting occurred in November. San Francisco faces a $380 million deficit next year, with growing pension and health care liabilities. Widespread layoffs and service cuts are expected and business leaders are using the crisis as an excuse to demand cuts to city employee pensions.
The collaborationist working group evolved in the wake of the struggle to defeat Proposition B, which lost in November. B was portrayed as a pension reform measure, but it would have gutted health benefits for thousands of city workers, the same employees who took $250 million in voluntary pay cuts last year. Their unions insisted that they could come up with a better plan for cutting their pension and health costs; hence, the new working group of union and corporate bosses.
B was backed by wealthy San Franciscans and businesses who are now railing against the working group, claiming it’s too slow and impotent. David Crane, a Proposition B supporter and economic adviser to former Gov. Schwarzenegger, said “This is the public labor movement’s Nixon-to-China moment. . . They are the ones who should propose and make it all happen.” In other words, city employee unions need to get over their antiquated obsession with protecting their members’ interests and get on the bandwagon of helping the ruling elite to raid the city’s coffers.
And the union bosses are jumping on board. Thomas O’Connor, president of the San Francisco firefighters union, said that “Everything is on the table.” Some of the solutions that are on the table include capping benefits at $100,000 a year, doing away with supplemental cost-of-living raises, and significantly raising the amount that existing employees must pay into the pension fund.