PRESS RELEASE: Oakland City Workers Unite in Support of Mayor Sheng Thao’s Balanced Budget Proposal

The Mayor’s Fiscal Year 2023-2025 balanced budget proposal protects essential city services, prevents layoffs, and addresses the growing understaffing crisis in the City

(OAKLAND) Oakland city workers represented by SEIU Local 1021, IFPTE Local 21, IAFF Local 55, and IBEW Local 1245 are united in support for Mayor Sheng Thao’s two-year balanced budget proposal released on Monday, May 1.

“We applaud the Mayor for balancing a historic deficit while protecting essential city services, preventing layoffs, and making the largest investment in affordable housing in Oakland’s history. While we understand brownouts in Fire services are a reality, we hope that as the budget improves we focus on restoring services for residents,” said firefighter and paramedic Zac Unger, IAFF Local 55 President.

“The decision to balance the budget by freezing some vacant positions instead of laying off city workers is a critical one to protect services for residents,” said lead electrician Michael Patterson, IBEW Local 1245 Chief Steward.

“Many city workers are currently doing the jobs of 2 or 3 people. The Mayor’s budget proposal is a major step towards addressing the understaffing crisis so that we can deliver better services to residents. As we move forward with the budget process, ensuring that there are no service cuts for residents and no impact on filled positions must be major priorities for all of us,” said recreation center director Angelica Lopez, Chapter Treasurer of SEIU Local 1021.

Oakland City Unions are excited to see that the Mayor’s budget proposal prioritizes addressing the City’s growing understaffing crisis. Across the City of Oakland, there are over 950 unfilled full-time job positions—an increase of over 200 in the past year. The Mayor’s budget proposal keeps hundreds of vacant positions active and funded in departments responsible for services that residents are desperately demanding: picking up illegal dumping, cleaning parks, fixing potholes, and more.

Mayor Thao’s budget proposal addresses understaffing with a three-pronged approach:

  • Vacancy Strike Force: There is currently a bottleneck in the hiring process due to a shortage of staff in Human Resources, the department responsible for hiring. In order to aggressively fill hundreds of vacancies, the Mayor’s budget proposal would establish a special hiring unit. This ‘Vacancy Strike Force’ would focus on staffing up the most short-staffed departments.
  • Job Fairs: The Mayor’s budget proposal invests $100,000 into job fairs focused on reaching Oakland residents living in areas with the highest rates of unemployment.
  • Citywide Analysis: The City’s retention and recruitment problem is also a result of uncompetitive wages compared with other Bay Area Cities and Counties. The Mayor’s budget proposal includes funding for a Citywide analysis to find out where the City is falling behind so we can then focus our resources on making those jobs more competitive.