Reader CW wants to see what Mayor Jerry Sanders has done to fulfill his campaign promises now that the mayor has been in office for nearly a year.

It is a great time to look at this. When the mayor took office, we made a watch list of his campaign promises related to his financial plan so we could keep tabs on how he did. So here’s how we broke it down:

  • A legal challenge to the 1996 and 2002 employee pension-benefit boosts.
    This lawsuit had already been filed before Sanders was even elected and is now in the hands of the court system.
  • Employee concessions.
    Sanders said on the campaign trail that he would call employee unions back to the negotiating table and force upon them a bevy of salary and benefit concessions.

The concessions included: salary freezes until the city’s financial stability is restored, increasing the retirement age from 55 to 60 for general workers and from 50 to 55 for public safety, change one of the key factors in calculating pensions, make employees pay more into the pension system on an annual basis, make employees pay a significantly larger share of their healthcare costs, eliminate the controversial purchase of service credit program and execute a mandatory work furlough program.

Sanders threatened to cut an additional 10 percent of jobs (above other cuts will discuss later) or go to bankruptcy if unions didn’t go back to negotiate (or renegotiate existing) contracts.

Well, it turns out the mayor never asked for any of this. The white-collar and blue-collar workers unions never went back to the table (they were supposed to be cowed back by the threat of bankruptcy, but the mayor has pooh-poohed that idea since winning office). Sanders told our Evan McLaughlin in April that he never sought the concessions:

During last fall’s mayoral campaign, Sanders said he would win savings of at least $50 million a year from the five labor unions by threatening the use of municipal bankruptcy or layoffs, which would put employees’ jobs and pensions at risk.

But Sanders said Thursday that he ultimately didn’t seek any concessions he campaigned on when his staff met with the police union’s negotiators. The mayor said he offered the same pay and benefit levels that are currently imposed on the police officers, and the city will reinstate those same salaries if the council approves them Monday.

Evan also reported the following regarding the remaining two unions, firefighters and deputy city attorneys:

The new, one-year contracts provide more to workers than what Sanders said he would dole out while campaigning last fall, but less than what union officials said employees should be paid after receiving a freeze on their salaries this fiscal year.

There are four more categories to deal with, but this is getting too long for one post. So I’ll address the rest of the issues in a Part II.


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