Union Tells City: You Have the Revenue to Do Right By San Francisco

Local 21 Challenges the City on Economics at Second Bargaining Session, City proposes that  Local 21 members should not be covered under San Francisco’s own Sick Leave Ordinance  


Bargaining continued on Thursday, January 31 with Local 21 making an economic presentation on the state of the City’s fiscal health.

Local 21 Researchers used public data to show how the City’s economic forecast is robust. Property taxes, the City’s largest revenue source, will continue to grow. Since 2005, City and County revenue has nearly doubled to $10.4 billion. In the last 4 years alone, revenue has increased 23.5%. Other economic indicators are strong as well: the unemployment rate is near zero, job creation continues, and more and more people are moving to San Francisco.

Despite this, the City continues to project a dire forecast of economic hardship.  Recently the City placed an article in the San Francisco Chronicle that claims there will be a $643.9 million dollar shortfall in 5 years. The Mayor’s budget instructions are quoted saying that our salary and benefits are the largest driver of the deficit. (Fracassa, Dominic, [2019, January 4].  Retrieved from: https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/SF-taking-steps-to-avoid-projected-future-budget-13509714.php.) But what’s the real story?

The City has a pattern of making unrealistic budget projections that miss the mark by billions of dollars and paint a picture of economic doom. In fact, since 2005 the City’s projections have missed reality by a cumulative $5.1 billion. In the past 6 city budgets the City made projections that forecast huge deficits, whereas in reality San Francisco has ended up with surpluses.

Even during the second worst economic downturn in the nation’s history, the City’s revenue only dipped by 1.2%, and then only for one year (2009). Telling San Franciscan’s that there isn’t enough money, and blaming these fictional shortfalls on city employees, is not the way to have an honest discussion about building a better San Francisco for everyone.

Our research clearly shows the economic health of San Francisco, but it also shows how the city is becoming less and less affordable as wealthier people move to the city and middle and working class families are forced out. With the cost of living being so high, and unemployment being so low, it is no surprise that 57% of Local 21 members have turned over in the past 5 years. Job competition is fierce, and it’s only going to get worse.

In fact, our research shows that San Francisco’s job growth is projected to skyrocket in precisely the categories of work Local 21 members perform for the residents of San Francisco.  In order for San Francisco to continue to be a great city, we need to be able to attract and retain public servants of the highest caliber.



While claiming that the budget is in bad shape and that employees are to blame, the City is also steadily increasing the outsourcing of our work. The City spent a staggering $3.583 billion on these expensive contracts last year, which amounts to a full 34.6% of the San Francisco budget. That’s up 11% just since FY 2012-13. This is money than can and should be spent on a steady, permanent workforce who can do San Francisco’s work inhouse, and who will strengthen the middle class in our city rather than continue to see it disappear.

The chief negotiator for the City passed multiple proposals across the table outlining ways they would like to see our contract change. One proposal asks us to waive our rights under the San Francisco Sick Leave Ordinance, a landmark law that greatly expanded sick leave for workers in San Francisco and allows workers to use their sick leave to help care for others. The City also passed a proposal that would eliminate union members’ rights to use our union strength and contract protections to address reasonable accommodation problems in our workplaces. Additionally, the City proposed to restrict the number of ways a city worker can seek to confront discrimination and harassment at work.

Bargaining continues the week of February 4th, and our Bargaining Team expects to present union proposals to the City.

Bargaining will occur every Thursday, don’t forget to wear blue and your union swag to show your support!