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City Under Hiring Freeze Until 401(k) Program Created

— It’s official: the city of San Diego has a hiring freeze in place. And it could be months before the freeze is lifted.

Aired 8/9/12 on KPBS News.

It’s official: the city of San Diego has a hiring freeze in place. And it could be months before the freeze is lifted.

San Diego City Hall

Above: San Diego City Hall

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San Diego Turnover Rate

San Diego Turnover Rate

This reflects the number of people who were ...

Except for police officers, San Diego can’t hire anyone new until it creates a 401(k) program for new employees. That includes positions like firefighters and 911 dispatchers. San Diego Chief Operating Officer Jay Goldstone said the Secretary of State certified the voter-approved Proposition B at the end of July. And on advice from the City Attorney, Goldstone said the city can’t take on anyone new until a 401(k) is implemented.

The city needs to reach an agreement with its labor unions before a 401(k) plan can be put in place. Goldstone said the city could come up with an interim plan.

“We’ve presented that to labor. They have made a counter proposal to us,” he said. “So they are at least talking to us.”

The city and the unions are involved in litigation over Prop. B that could take at least a year to resolve. The interim plan would be in effect until the litigation is resolved.

Right now the city's various unions are negotiating with the city collaboratively. However, Goldstone said the individual unions are free to come to an agreement with the city separately if they so decide. He said current employees can be promoted or moved between positions. Employees who used to work at the city and still have money in their pension plans can also be hired back.

Goldstone said everything should be fine if the sides can reach an agreement by September or October. If not, the freeze could last at least several more months and city services could begin to be affected. For instance, a planned expansion of library hours may be put on hold because the city needs to hire more people to staff the libraries. The fire department is also scheduled to hold its first academy in three years this fall. That could be cancelled if a 401(k) plan isn’t in place by then.

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