San Diego Backs Off Furlough Plan For Hundreds Of City Workers
Last Friday, the city told at least 800 of its workers that unless they took paid leave starting last Monday, they wouldn’t be paid. The workers had not been considered "essential" to the city's pandemic response. Now, the city is abandoning that plan after employees pushed back.
The Municipal Employees Association, which represents many city workers, filed a grievance with the city last Saturday. The union said such an action, even during an emergency, broke state labor law.
After a week of negotiations, the city has agreed to restore the salaries of all impacted city employees, and to give them back pay to last Monday.
In a statement on its website, the union said, “The bottom line is that if you are willing and able to work, you will continue to get full pay.”
The union made clear, however, that employees who typically work in the libraries or parks department might be reassigned during the pandemic.
“I’ve said from the very beginning, if employees want to take on essential duties, we will put them to work and pay them for it,” Mayor Kevin Faulconer said during a press conference on Friday afternoon. “Yesterday, the Municipal Employees Association, informed us that they agree with this approach.”
On Friday afternoon, the city notified workers in an e-mail that while some workers will be reassigned, “Efforts will be made to have all alternative work assignments and duties be consistent with the employee’s present job classification.”
Reassigned city employees have been working at the city’s newly-established homeless shelter at the downtown convention center, and helping to close city parks and parking lots.