As Glendale plans to cut its workforce by more than 100 employees, three city unions have agreed to no salary or cost-of living increases this fiscal year, officials reported.
For several years, the unions have agreed to these provisions as the city struggles financially. The City Council closed a $15.4-million deficit to approve a $167-million budget for the General Fund, which pays for most public services.
As part of that budget plan, the city offered an early retirement incentive. About 110 people are expected to retire by Sept. 1, while between 12 and 16 employees may be laid off as part of the plan to close the budget gap.
While retirement and medical benefits continue to strain the city’s finances, several employee groups saw across-the-board salary cuts in recent years. In 2011, police salaries were cut by 2% and in 2010, general employee salaries were slashed by 1.5%, according to a city report.
At the same time, employees were asked to contribute more toward their retirement benefits.
But City Hall critics continue to complain about city employee benefits, describing them as bloated or unfair when compared to Social Security income that other retirees depend on.
At the Tuesday council meeting, Councilwoman Laura Friedman said the city faces a problem when it comes to paying promised pensions, but officials have been working to fix that. She added that Social Security and city retirement benefits should not be compared.
Social Security “was never meant to be the pensions or the savings of this nation. It was meant to be something that kept people out of abject poverty.”
The city’s unfunded medical liability and pension liability loom at about $103 million and $205 million, respectively, according to the city’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report released in December.
Police, general employees and managers will be contributing more of their paychecks to cover medical benefits, which are to cost the city an additional $208,000 this year, according to a city report.
Glendale firefighters have a multi-year contract that doesn’t come due until June 2014, but city officials may be discussing adjustments before then, said Human Resources Director
Glendale Water & Power employees who are part of a new union in Glendale — International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18 — do not currently have a contract. The group rejected the city’s offer several months ago partially because it asked for employees to contribute more toward their retirement benefits.