SJ to impose contract terms on four of 11 unions

May 31, 2011 3:17:21 PM PDT
The San Jose City Council Tuesday voted to impose contract terms on four of the city's 11 unions, including AFSCME, the city's largest. San Jose is facing a $115 million budget shortfall. The vote was 8-3 in favor of imposing terms on the unions who had not reached agreements with the city. The city manager had warned that if the unions did not agree to 10 percent total compensation reductions or if the council did not impose terms, every branch library and community center in the city would face closure.

The unions say the vote was not all about money; union leaders say it is an effort by the city to erode union strength. They call the council efforts "Wisconsin West" referring to what many consider union busting legislation in that state. Mayor Chuck Reed says the vote Tuesday was necessary to avoid further layoffs and service reductions in San Jose.

The council cannot impose terms on police officers, so that remains the only union which has not reached an agreement or had terms imposed upon its members. That will likely mean 278 layoffs in the police department out of a total of 1,220 full time equivalent employees.

The president of the city's largest union AFSCME says Tuesday's action by the City Council opens the door for a possible lawsuit against the city or perhaps even a strike by workers.