Oakland issues pink slips to 2,500 employees

January 18, 2012 6:41:18 PM PST
Budget troubles are so severe in Oakland that the city issued layoff notices to half of its employees on Wednesday.

They knew they were coming, but that did not making getting them any easier. Most of those who received the notices will not be laid off when all is said and done, but they say it is still unnerving to receive such a piece of paper.

Leslie Mullins says, "It's troublesome." She is among 2,500 full and part-time Oakland city workers to receive layoff notices. She printed hers in pink. "I wanted it to be more official for me, so it could resonate to me. This is a layoff notice. In the movies and what not, it's always pink. So to me, it was symbolic. "

Police, firefighters, 9-1-1 dispatchers, and human resources employees were among those who did not receive the layoff notices, but nearly all the others, well over half the city's workforce, were handed one as they arrived to work Wednesday morning. Ultimately, the city will lay off about 200 employees due to the loss of $26 million in redevelopment money.

Union leaders are upset that so many employees were noticed. "The powers that be got a shot across the bow January 2011. Therefore, I would assume as a citizen, as an employee, and as a labor leader, that there would be some sort of contingency plan already in the making," said Dwight McElroy with SEIU Local 1021.

Next week, City Manager Deanna Santana and Mayor Jean Quan will submit their proposed budget to the city council, which will decide who actually loses their jobs effective February 3.

"We need to do this so fast," said Councilwoman Jane Brunner. "The city administrator is giving us her budget and the mayor's budget on Monday the 23rd. Two days later, we're going to have a hearing, our first formal hearing on Wednesday the 25th. One week later, we need to make a decision."

In the end, about 200 of the 2,500 people who got layoff notices will actually lose their jobs. At this point, the only thing that could delay this process is a piece of legislation in Sacramento that would delay getting rid of redevelopment agencies by February 1. Even if that does happen, no one in Oakland is terribly optimistic Gov. Jerry Brown would actually sign such a bill.