For the first time in the City of Phoenix's history with AFSCME Local 2960 we CANNOT come to an agreement with the City over the upcoming 2014-2016 contract. For over 45 years we have negotiated a fair contract with the city, even during the dark days recession, but this year we are at impasse. The City’s last best offer was to continue our concessions two more years AND to add a total freeze on all merit increases and longevity for two years, and a freeze on sick leave and vacation days that count towards your pension. Additional cuts include wanting our members to take additional furlough days on two holidays plus 1/2 holiday on Christmas Eve. As well, the city wants to take away our units life insurance/health and welfare policy which has so far helped over 25 of our brothers and sisters families when they lost their loved one in the last few years. For our members that still receive merit increases these concessions would have meant 13% less pay over 2 years. For some of those that receive longevity it would have meant thousands of dollars less over two years. For those near retirement the snap shot and freezes would have impacted pensions for life. For new members it would have meant less pay in two years than you are getting today. For all of our members it would have been an additional 11 furlough days (totaling 30 furlough days over the last few years). We fought for something more reasonable day after day...week after week, up until 2:00 am last Friday night. The city would not budge. After a year of telling us the economy has picked up, after giving a city manager a $78,000 raise, after our sacrifices year after year to balance the city’s finances...they want to force a contract on us more draconian than ever before.
At this same time the city releases a ridiculous budget to the citizens showing hundreds of our unit members on the chopping block. A wipe out of detention officers, fire prevention specialists, closing of pools, senior centers, and community centers. A budget that not only decimates our employees but risks the safety of the citizens of our city and the loss of services to our most vulnerable. They have used such scare tactics before. They have lied to the public before. They have lied to city council before. This is no different. I no longer have faith in our city management who have produced a budget with not ONE suggestion of a source of income. I no longer have faith in our city financial wizards who told us 2 months ago that the city was doing great but now are saying we need $40 million. I no longer have faith that the city wants to bargain in good faith.
AFSCME Local 2960 and 2384 have now picked a fact finder who will be presented testimony over the next two weeks and who will summon city personnel and negotiators under oath to present the facts and truth of our current economy. AFSCME has international staff in town to present the city revenue options. AFSCME has hired lawyers to defend our rights. AFSCME has gotten staff from Washington DC to go line by line through this budget. This level of confrontation with the city has never happened in the past...We have never gone this far. But then again we have never faced such persecution before.
I ask the members of Local 2960 to remain calm during this tumultuous time and know that the union is using every available resource to secure your job and your pay and we WILL NOT bow down and be used as scapegoats to bad financial decisions. Myself and Luis Schmidt, President of AFSCME 2384 went before city council a few months ago and told them not to get rid of the 1% food tax early until we knew for sure that we were out of financial difficulty and the council turned their heads. Now, we find out the deficit if almost exactly the same as this 1% food tax was. Well now its time for that same council, who ignored our warnings to step up and fix this. It is now up to our members to voice their opposition. It is now up to this local to say Enough is Enough.
This Tuesday, March 25th at 2:00 pm City Council will be reviewing this budget for the first time. I hope you will show up if possible and voice your opposition to this budget and these cuts in pay. If you can't make it...WRITE and CALL every council member in the city and tell them what you think -- their contact info is here: http://phoenix.gov/mayorcouncil/councilstaff.html .
We can no longer be silent, we can no longer sit back and watch, we can no longer afford to sit on the sidelines and not get involved. Too much is on the line. VOICE your opposition before that voice is silenced.
My staff is working on a summation of our negotiations. This is a lot of information, and we hope to have it compiled and posted on the web by Friday.
Yours in Solidarity,
Frank A Piccioli
President- AFSCME Local 2960