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Hueso entertains late-night guests

April 15, 2009 - 12:08 am

Moments after the City Council unanimously voted to unilaterally impose a new one-year contract on the city’s blue-collar workers and police officers—which happened at about 10:20 p.m. Wednesday night, after four hours’ worth of closed-door discussion—the council chambers had cleared of nearly all the people who’d been there waiting to hear the decision.

All the council members, who said nothing publicly about their decision, had cleared, too, except for Council President Ben Hueso, who was fielding a single reporter’s questions. After a few minutes, a group of people came back into the room. It was Joan Raymond, president of AFSCME Local 127, the blue-collar union, and a handful of her union’s members, wearing T-shirts and ball caps. Close on their heels were Lorena Gonzalez and Evan McLauglin of the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council, which counts Local 127 among its members.

While waiting for Hueso to finish the interview, Raymond told CityBeat that she was dumbfounded by the council’s vote. The union and the city, she believed, were only about $150,000 apart, the union having agreed to concede more than $2.2 million worth of pay and benefits. The city had set a goal of $2.4 million in labor savings from Local 127 members. Reps say the union’s 1,990 members average about $40,000 a year in income and can’t absorb a 6-percent reduction in compensation as easily as better-paid city employees.

When Hueso was finished, the union reps confronted him, and the Council Prez, widely considered the easiest union vote on the City Council, said, “Walk with me.” Hueso led the group out of the chambers, toward the elevators, where he found another reporter with a series of questions. The union folks stood there and waited patiently. Gonzalez, of the Labor Council, looked furious.

Done with his second interview, Hueso stepped into a down-bound elevator, followed by the union crowd, presumably headed for Hueso’s 10th-floor office.

Oh, to be a fly on the wall at that meeting.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Karl permalink
    April 15, 2009 - 1:31 pm 1:31 pm

    Hueso has sold them out. But he had help. If they would have sought out middle ground instead of attacking those with moderate sensibilities they would not be in the position they find themselves in today. By attacking Tony Young and others with vicious rumors Lorena and her cohorts have lost the whole enchilada for the rank and file. They should of sought a 33% formula for cuts. This would mean taxpayers and unions and city government sharing the cuts. Instead they had the mayor’s plan forced down their throats. This is the approach that B. D. Howard has been promoting all along. They should have listened instead of attacking.

  2. Justin permalink
    April 15, 2009 - 1:42 pm 1:42 pm

    Lorena DID lose a LOT for the rank and file. my source tells me that certain city councilmembers who were considered in labor’s camp were offended and put off by Lorena’s heavy handed tactics and balked. instead of bringing sides together, Lorena’s approach drove people away.

  3. Karl permalink
    April 16, 2009 - 1:13 am 1:13 am

    While there will still be some budget negotiations going on I wonder if the unions will be looking at salaries of staff. For example, Ana Molina (Ben Hueso’s Chief of Staff) is scheduled to make $110,000 this year. Do you think labor might want a piece of that?

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