Thursday, May 15, 2008

70 Hours and Counting: Where’s Jerry Sanders?

Even though blue-collar city workers from AFSCME Local 127 agreed to resume bargaining the moment Jerry Sanders’ poverty pension proposal was shot down late Monday night, Jerry Sanders has yet to sit down to the bargaining table 70 hours later.

Lorena Gonzalez, secretary-treasurer of the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council, called on Mayor Jerry Sanders to return to the negotiating table.

“We believe Jerry Sanders’ announcement to meet and confer by ballot box is another stunt by his political operation to scapegoat city employees in order to deflect attention from his inability to find solutions to our city’s challenges.

“Late Monday, when he made the political calculation that he didn’t have support for his pension experiment, Jerry Sanders – aided and abetted by Mike Aguirre – delivered a last-minute substitute that had never been formally offered before in order to save face.

“This offer was presented about 9 p.m. at night and away from public view. Had it been adopted, an average blue-collar city worker who had worked for 30 years would retire with an $18,500 annual pension with no social security benefits and no SPSP. On its face, the Jerry Sanders’ plan would have left hard-working employees to retire into poverty. Regardless of the proposal’s merits, the unethical tactics of Jerry Sanders and Mike Aguirre run contrary to the rules that they agreed to back when negotiations started months ago.

“The attempt by Jerry Sanders and Mike Aguirre to make a late-night switcheroo was aimed to unfairly shove down our workers’ throats a proposal that had never been discussed prior and was never and still has not been put into the public record of the City.

“Now, Jerry Sanders is trying to force his campaign timeline onto the hard-working blue-collar employees of this city, but it’s clear he’s the one on the clock. Over 70 hours have passed since the City Council shot down this half-cooked pension proposal, and he has yet to come back to the table.

“Instead, Jerry Sanders wants to put a pension proposal in front of voters, but AFSCME Local 127 has said they’re ready to bargain now. I’m calling on Jerry Sanders to end these shameless campaign tactics, for him and Mike Aguirre to stick to the rules he agreed to, and return to the table so the city can move forward.

“Clearly, San Diegans are tired of the bickering at City Hall. San Diego’s working families deserve a Mayor who is committed to moving things forward in cooperation with our City’s employees. Jerry Sanders is failing with every passing hour.

“The public has had enough of the excuses, half-truths and rhetoric of Jerry Sanders and Mike Aguirre. Now is as good of a time as ever for them to start working toward solutions instead of their next excuse.”

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