As budget talks moved slowly in Washington, 1,600 federal employees in Sonoma County are preparing for the possibility that the government may shut down this weekend. Many of them will be spared from unpaid furloughs, thanks to their essential military or safety roles. But others may have to face the news that they may be sent home or their paychecks delayed.
More than 97 teaching positions across Sonoma County could be eliminated next fall as school districts seek to weather reductions in state financial support. Today is the deadline to notify tenured and probationary teachers that their jobs are at risk. Many districts are choosing to impose up to eight furlough days rather than pink-slipping more employees.
It may be hard to believe, but wait times at the DMV are showing signs of modest improvement, following a period in which the lines seemed to grow longer by the month. Last month, 14 percent of customers waited more than an hour, down from 16 percent a year ago. The agency attributes the improvement to the end of furlough days.
Middle managers and city engineers agreed to take unpaid furloughs to help the city balance its budget. But city workers are losing patience. “We’ve given our last drop of blood,” said Dave Gossman, who represents 190 workers in Operating Engineers Local 3.
Many county offices will be closed or reducing their hours over a two-week period around Christmas and New Years as part of an effort to trim county labor costs. See which offices will go dark over the holidays.
Mechanics, heavy-equipment operators and building maintenance workers this week became the final group of Sonoma County employees to accept a cost-saving — and job-saving — deal. The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 39 agreed to a package of mandatory days off without pay, salary freezes and a halt in staff development spending.
Members of the Santa Rosa City Employees Association were lauded by the Santa Rosa City Council on Tuesday for agreeing to take the equivalent of one unpaid day off every month to help the city balance its budget. The city hopes to use the agreement as a model for concessions from other union workers.
The vote was overwhelming: 93 percent of its members agreed to take one unpaid day off every month. The one-year contract will reduce pay for members of the Santa Rosa City Employees Association by 4.6 percent.
The City of Santa Rosa and the leaders of its largest union have struck a tentative deal calling for workers to take one unpaid furlough day per month, a concession long-sought by city officials struggling to close a $3.8 million deficit. City officials hopes the deal will jump-start ongoing negotiations with other unions.
Santa Rosa’s interim city manager, Wayne Goldberg, is the first city employee to take a salary cut since the City Council earlier this year asked employees for concessions to help bridge its $3.8 million budget gap. Will it spur negotiations with unions representing other city workers?