City Attorney Colleen Mejia informed the Teamsters Union last week in a letter that they requested an immediate meeting this week to discuss major layoffs and elimination of position within City Hall and in City government – all of which is represented by the Teamsters.
City officials and CFO Eric Demas have had a fairly positive outlook on the finances of the City this spring despite many setbacks from COVID-19. However, with businesses continuing to be shut down, local revenues like hotels and meals taxes either gone or very low, and State Aid expected to be slashed – the future of the coming City Budget on July 1 seems to now be very much in question.
And it appears the questions are being answered by massive cuts to the City government workforce.
“The City Administration has submitted notices to the unions to negotiate the impact of budget reductions as a result of COVID19,” said Mayor Carlo DeMaria on Monday. “The union is being afforded the opportunity to submit questions, concerns, proposals to the City.”
The numbers of jobs to be cut or laid off were not specified, but it was said the numbers could be in the hundreds.
The City and the Teamsters were at odds immediately though last week after a letter went out from Mejia about potential cuts – calling for a meeting within six to eight days about a layoffs and elimination of positions.
“As you may know, the City of Everett anticipates a serious shortfall in revenue in the coming fiscal year,” she wrote. “AS a result the City is contemplating the elimination of the attached positions in the DPW Unit effective July 1,” read one of the letters. “Realizing the economic exigency of the situation, we have a short window to discuss the matter.”
Those units with eliminated jobs included:
•Motor Equipment Repair W12
•Highway Foreman W10
•Water Craftsman HMEO
•Facilities W10; and
•Wellness Center W7.
A similar letter also went out addressing the elimination of positions in the Clerical Units. Those units with layoffs or eliminations included:
•Treasurer A6 and C6
•City Clerk C6
•Elections A6 and C3
•Everett Police C6
•Fire Clerk C3
•ISD A6, C3 and C6.
•Highway C6 and C3
•Health A6 and C3
•Human Services C3; and
The Teamsters shot back, saying they needed more time, needed questions answered and would not participate in the speedy meeting timeframe set by the City.
“Therefore, let me first inform you that Teamsters Local 25 does not consider it bound by any of the arbitrarily chosen dates contained in your letters,” read a letter from President Sean O’Brien. “You should be reminded that the intent of your letters, sent just 20 days before the start of a new fiscal year, threatens the livelihoods of dozens of employees we represent and has a dramatic impact on those employees who will remain working for the City of Everett.”
The Union said it would not meet with the City until it answered several questions – including the numbers of jobs, how proposed federal legislation and programs could stave off such plans, and how the budget shortfall was identified.
There were a total of 10 questions posed to the administration that the Union said it wanted answered before it would meet with the City.
Mayor DeMaria on Monday – as quoted above – agreed to answer those questions before having any meetings.
The process of discussing layoffs to City workers is expected to continue this week as the City prepares for the upcoming new City Budget cycle – which begins on July 1.