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So the San Diego Municipal Employees’ Association was not at all pleased about my “special interests” post below.

But I did get some news out of their outrage. MEA General Manager Judie Italiano just sent me over the union’s proposal it has sent to the city. Perhaps we are finally dispensing with the ridiculous facade that these labor negotiations are secret. They aren’t and never have been.

Unlike Italiano’s letter, this proposal does have some real sacrifice in it. It’s a good faith start. I think the union’s leaders continue to underestimate, perhaps deliberately, the kind of economic pain we’re about to experience. And I think that we have a long way to go.

But we’re going.

MEA has proposed that the city stop matching employees’ contributions to their SPSP accounts for two years. The SPSP is the city’s version of a 401k. See, city employees do not get Social Security. They get both their defined benefit pension and this SPSP plan instead. It’s a pretty nice deal.

The city has been matching up to 4.5 percent of city employees’ salary contributions to this fund. MEA has proposed that the city stop doing that for two years.

The union has also said it agrees with the idea that there should be no general salary increase and it accepts the pension board’s decision from several weeks ago to limit the interest rate on DROP.

Now, again, this is not going to make everything all better. But before you guys pan it, remember what we have here is a genuine sacrifice. Perhaps someone else can take a step now and we can keep the ball rolling toward a comprehensive solution to get through this economic storm.

MEA insists that these concessions be matched by other employees and that they be only temporary. Why temporary?

Their economic sacrifices must be temporary because the recession which necessitates these concessions will ultimately be temporary. Each concession must have a limited time span and a pre-determined “sunset” date when the status quo ante will be restored.

This is a bit weird. Perhaps we can agree to this when Mr. Recession tells us when his sunset date is.


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