Friday, March 5, 2010

No ‘rock stars’ here

Today, the color pink is all the rage in San Francisco.

No, it’s not the latest in summer swimwear or a flash mob planning to sing Pink’s big hit “So What” in unison. We’re talking about the type of pink that comes in the form of a letter from your employer saying “cutbacks are forcing us to eliminate your position.”

That’s right, it’s Pink Slip Day in the city and county of SF and although the estimated 15,000 workers who will receive the notices are in a furor over the layoffs, there is a silver lining to the situation.

“The purpose of this is to avoid layoffs,” Mayor Gavin Newsom said to a TV news crew Thursday. “… to allow them [workers] the dignity of maintaining their healthcare. I’m waiting for a better alternative.”

These layoffs will go into effective in early May, at which time many of those affective will be able to return to their jobs if they agree to work no more than 37.5 hours per week. According to Newsom, the 6.25 reduction in salary will save the city $50 million, a much-needed shot in the arm as the city faces a $522 million budget deficit going into the new fiscal year.

Losing a job during rough economic times is no fun … I know first hand. But if my former job had given me the opportunity to reapply at a reduced salary, and still keep my health benefits, I would have grinned and bore it.

I understand the frustration city employees and the residents-at-large feel over San Francisco’s constant inability to wrangle in an out-of-control budget, but I see this as a chance to keep some form of money – more than bi-weekly unemployment benefits – flowing into your household.

In Newsom’s grand plan, fire, police and Muni operators – who are having their own challenges these days – will not be affected. Another saved clique: city attorneys. Now that’s the group I question. But in a city plagued with lawsuits and alleged wrong doings, it may be wise to keep them around.

Michelle Fitzhugh-Craig is an award-winning journalist who resides in the Bay Area. Contact her at or visit her blog at

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