BY SARA TABIN
Daily Post Staff Writer
Palo Alto will only lay off nine full-time employees this year as it cuts $39 million from the city’s budget because of lost money from COVID-19, though the city previously said it was going to lay off 70 full-time employees, including 16 police officers and firefighters.
Spokeswoman Meghan Horrigan-Taylor said that 15 cops and firefighters will get to keep their jobs because of union concessions and the city’s early retirement program.
Police, fire unions give up raises
Police and fire unions agreed to give up $3.5 million in raises for next year. The police union was supposed to get $2.2 million in raises and the firefighters were supposed to get $1.4 million.
Horrigan-Taylor said three firefighters and two police officers agreed to retire early to let younger members of their forces stay on. They were paid an extra $150,000 in incentives.
Meanwhile, SEIU refused to give up all of its $4.4 million in planned raises for next year.
Margaret Adkins, the local SEIU chair, said in public comments at city council’s meeting on June 22 that the union offered $3 million in concessions but the city didn’t accept.
Adkins said the union wanted to make concessions if it meant preventing members of their “family” from losing their livelihoods. She said the union took into account that their bargaining group includes the lowest wage earners at the city.
She said they also wanted to protect members who plan to retire soon and can’t wait for a raise.
Horrigan-Taylor said 51 temporary and seasonal city employees will also be laid off.
The nine full-time layoffs were spread across Administrative Services, Community Services, the Police Department, the Fire Department and Public Works.
In 2010, a similar situation happened. The city council said it intended to lay off 70 employees, giving the impression that big budget cuts were going to take place at City Hall. But actually only 10 people got pink slips.
When council decided to lay off 70 employees in 2010, those who were going to be fired found vacant positions they could fill, and some bumped employees out of their jobs, as is allowed under the city’s union contracts.