A quick note on our story today on Mayor Jerry Sanders’ acknowledgement that the city likely won’t be able to keep a promise the city made to Local 127 in 2005.

When employees agreed to take home less pay that year, the city agreed to add $600 million to the pension above its normal annual contributions over three years. So far, only $107 million has been pumped into the retirement fund.

The unions says that if the city doesn’t come up with the remaining $493 million by the June 30 deadline, the terms of their contract would be violated and the dispute could wind up in court unless it’s resolved before then. Next year’s contract negotiations are bound to be the venue for the city and Local 127 to bargain over that dispute.

For Sanders, that round of negotiations are big. They come on the eve of his reelection bid, when he will likely square off against businessman Steve Francis, who has been tracking the mayor’s progress on campaign promises ever since his mayoral candidacy fell short in 2005.

Sanders has deferred making many of the concessions — which he pledged on the campaign trail — until next year, saying he will be more likely to make cost cuts on the global scale when all five unions’ contracts expire. Next year’s talks will be the first time all of the employee groups are forced back to forge new contracts.

Assuming he’s right and the city doesn’t make good on the $600 million pledge, it now becomes one of the several concessions that he will have to seek. Other cost-cutting sacrifices Sanders pledged to win from the unions include increasing employees’ retirement age, requiring employees to pay a larger share of their healthcare and pension costs, and starting a 401(k)-style defined-benefit retirement plan.

EVAN McLAUGHLIN

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