Loss of Redevelopment Funding Galvanizes Oakland City Unions

In Oakland, the loss of Redevelopment Agency (RDA) funding on February 1 left a $27 million hole in the FY 11/12 budget, affecting over 160 positions fully or partially funded in 11 City departments. In response to this crisis, Oakland City Administrator Deanna Santana and her staff revised the budget, cutting jobs and restructuring City agencies. To implement these changes quickly she issued layoff notices to 2,500 non-sworn employees on January 18 with the expectation that layoffs would be effective February 3, 2012, three days after the adoption of the revised budget.

This unprecedented move was designed to fundamentally restructure City government in Oakland with a minimum of labor and community input, in a very short window of time.

Since the budget proposal was announced, Local 21 staff and officers have been working in coalition with SEIU, IBEW and the Alameda County Labor Council to educate members and lobby the Administration to halt layoffs and consider community input. After substantial pressure put on the City Administrator and Council members, we achieved three goals:

  • The Council agreed to extend the layoff date from February 3 to February 22
  • The Council forced the City Administrator to work with City employee unions on the restructuring of departments through a Transition Labor Management Team

  • The Council did not approve the City Administrator’s medium and long-range budget goals, which included a laundry list of anti-labor “concepts.”

Achieving these goals enabled us to protect our members against some cuts, and also give our members a chance to influence where future cuts will be made.