Oakland plans to send 1,500 pink slips out

The city of Oakland plans to send over 1,500 pink slips to its staff due to the cutback in redevelopment funding.

January 13, 2012 12:34:44 AM PST
There are a lot of anxious city worker in Oakland. They just got word that hundreds of pink slips are going out next week. The layoffs are the result of a sudden loss of money from Sacramento.

When these 1,500 plus layoff notices start going out next week, we're told it will be the largest number ever sent out by this city at one time. When the actual layoffs occur, it will be more like several hundred, but there's no doubt this process will be painful for all involved.

"It's devastating for this organization," said Oakland city administrator Deanna Santa.

Santa confirmed for ABC7 more than half her city's employees will receive layoff notices, starting next week, that's more than 1,500 pink slips in all.

"We have a workforce that will be reduced in a very short period of time without the normal engagement process that this city has put in place in the past," said Santana.

Still, Santana said it has to be done after the California Supreme Court's decision supporting the disbanding of redevelopment agencies. In Oakland, that's a loss of $25-$30 million per year. Redevelopment dollars fund 159 full-time positions.

But the city will send out many more pink slips to allow the City Council maximum flexibility in making reductions by a February 1st deadline. Union leaders say the huge number of notices is heavy-handed and unnecessary.

When asked if she thought it was premature, Renata Terry from SEIU Local 1021 said, "Yes, and I think it's just a lack of information. I think it's a lack of planning and I think we can go about this a little better without upsetting your entire workforce."

"They're making it far more broad than they need to, far more broad than it should be, and we're hoping that they retract those letters that are going out and take a more thoughtful approach," said Roxanne Sanchez, the SEIU Local 1021 president.

Wendy Johnson has worked in the Parks And Recreation Department for 17 years. When asked if she thought she might get one of these pink slips, she said, "I don't know, no I don't know. I'm just kind of like... not on eggshells, but just wondering what I will do if it happens to me too."

One other note, redevelopment dollars pay for much more than the agency itself -- 17 Oakland police officers are paid for out of that money. The officers can't be laid off because of a prior agreement they have with the city.

The mayor, city administrator, city council members, half of all of their salaries are paid for out of that redevelopment money. It's not clear at this point whether or how those salaries might be affected by all this.