The city and three labor unions have failed to reach contract agreements despite months of negotiations, Mayor Jerry Sanders announced at a press conference this morning.

Sanders said the city has reached an impasse with the Municipal Employees Association, Local 127 of the American Federation of State County Municipal Employees, which represents City Hall’s blue-collar workers and the Deputy City Attorney’s Association after 101 negotiation sessions over 19 weeks.

Sanders said he was simply unable to offer the employees of the three unions any wage raises because of the city’s fragile financial condition. And he said many city employees have already received a 4 percent raise this year.

“The three unions asked for raises that would cost $14.3 million annually and that’s money that we simply don’t have,” Sanders said.

Sanders said other major sticking points in the negotiations were the city’s plan to restructure the pension system for new employees and a reformatting of medical coverage for all city employees.

Evan McLaughlin, political director of the San Diego Imperial Counties Labor Council, an umbrella organization that represents local unions, said the pension plan offered to employees was very poor.

“I would challenge any reporter or politician to find a weaker pension plan in any other American city,” McLaughlin said. “This guts employees’ defined benefits, which have been a trademark of retirements for public sector employees.”

Earlier this year, Sanders offered raises to police and fire personnel. He said those raises were necessary to stem a recruitment and retention crisis in the city’s public safety sector.

But while the San Diego Police Department has been battling with such a recruitment and retention crisis, statistics show the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department has not. Sanders later moderated his comments on the fire department, saying a raise was necessary to prevent a recruitment and retention crisis for firefighters.

The contracts drawn up by the Mayor’s Office must now be approved by the City Council, which will consider the matter on Monday.


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