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Renton Employees Agree to Pay Cuts to Save Colleagues’ Jobs

April 16, 2009

For more information contact:

Nancy Carlson, Human Resources and Risk Management Administrator, 425-430-7656
Iwen Wang, Finance and Information Services Administrator, 425-430-6858
Preeti Shridhar, Communications Director, 425-430-6569

RENTON, WA:  All employees of the City of Renton are giving back to save their fellow employees from layoffs.

Mayor Denis Law announced that city employees have voted to sacrifice their pay and benefits in an effort to bridge a portion of the $6 million shortfall forecasted in the 2009 general fund budget, and to avoid layoffs and continue to maintain our commitment to the citizens of Renton.

“I am committed not to increase the tax burden on our citizens during these tough economic times,” said Mayor Denis Law.  “I am very grateful for the personal sacrifices and the commitment to public service that all our employees have shown. Thanks to their efforts we are able to continue providing high quality services to our community.”

Since July of last year, the City of Renton has reduced its general governmental expenses by nearly 12% in anticipation of reduced revenues in this declining local economy, including freezing 36 unfilled positions and cutting operational expenses.  Despite that, the city continues to face a deficit, and the current forecast estimates an additional gap of about $6 million between revenues and expenditures. About $4.5 million will be covered by further citywide budget reductions including freezing an additional 12 vacant positions, reducing capital spending, as well as using some of the city’s rainy day funds. The reductions in pay made by employees will provide the approximately $1.2 million required to balance the 2009 budget.

 “We're facing unprecedented economic trouble in our community, and the union leadership and members did a great job stepping up to the challenge and finding solutions,” said Nancy Carlson, Human Resources and Risk Management Administrator.

The city’s bargaining unions include Local 2170 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), representing employees in all city departments except the police department; the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF), Local 864, representing both firefighters and battalion chiefs; and the Renton Police Officers' Guild, representing both police officers and non-commissioned employees in the police department. The bargaining units and the non-represented employees were asked to reduce their annual compensation by 2 percent. Each of the unions, the non-represented employees and the elected officials worked to find the best way to provide the savings within their respective groups.

"I think this speaks very positively of our labor unions and the relationship the Council and the Mayor have with our employees," said Randy Corman, Renton City Council President. “The members of the union have shown how much they care for their fellow employees, and have demonstrated their team spirit. In times such as these, it is also critically important for those of us in leadership positions to do our part."

“The importance of avoiding layoffs while maintaining a high quality of public service was crucial to our membership.” said Pat Miller, President of Local 2170, AFSCME.  “I commend the hard work and dedication of our members and appreciate their sense of responsibility and commitment to our community and to their fellow workers.”

 “Local 864 has always been committed to working with the City through tough economic times,” said Doug McDonald, President, IAFF, Local 864.  “Our Local was able to find options to deal with the deficit without compromising public safety further, and also minimizing the disruption to our members.  Local 864 understands the importance of keeping fire fighters on the street and found ways to avoid further reductions in fire fighters.  We appreciate the support of the Council and Mayor's office. The members of Local 864 will continue to provide the highest level of service possible to the citizens of Renton."

“It was very important for us all to work together cooperatively across the city and make these concessions,” said Mark Coleman, President, Renton Police Officers’ Guild. “By working together we are able to respond to these difficult economic times that are affecting us all while maintaining the health of our organization and providing for the good of the citizens of Renton.”

The city continues to closely monitor the economy and determine changes to the city’s budget as needed.  City officials are also considering any impacts of the State of Washington’s projected deficit and the consequences of any budget decisions made in the state legislature.