City of San Diego offering cash to employees for money-saving ideas

The city of San Diego is offering its employees cash bonuses for ideas that save the city money. The purpose is to generate immediate savings that would be re-invested in neighborhood improvements. The movement is being called San Diego Works, and think about it: labor and management working together to benefit the city. If it works, it’s a new day at City Hall; if it doesn’t, the labor peace that was on display outside City Hall Tuesday will quickly turn sour. This is the first time in a long time that the leaders of the city’s six labor unions stood with the mayor on a labor issue that came out of the mayor’s office. San Diego Works is a pilot program to benefit employees, the city and taxpayers.

“If a city employee, or a group of employees, come up with a great idea that saves taxpayers money, they will be rewarded using some of the savings,” said Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

10% of the savings – up to $100,000 for a group to be shared equally, with a maximum of $5,000 per person. If the idea saves $1 million or more, the share is doubled. Mayor Faulconer says it’s a different way of doing things at City Hall.

“I believe we can accomplish so much more when we work together. We can harness the power of the great ideas for all San Diegans, and I know our partners in the city-recognized employee organizations agree.”

They haven’t always agreed. In fact, labor negotiations in the past have often been contentious and so divisive that an arbitrator or a judge had to step in. This is not the case with this agreement.

“It’s going to be implemented, and we’re going to be seeing efficiencies and savings sooner than we had if we continued down the paths of previous administrations,” stated Mike Zucchet of the Municipal Employees Association.

Previous administrations, such as former Mayor Bob Filner holding up managed competition which took four years to get going. Managed competition is now being re-negotiated; meantime, San Diego Works is to get savings immediately. Zucchet is head of the city’s largest union and called this agreement “unique”.

“I mean that in a good way, compared to previous negotiations conducted by administrations in previous years.”

“It’s a win-win for all of us, for employees and the taxpayers,” declared Frank Pitaro of AFSCME Local 127.

“We really got together, put our minds together. We were all in the same boat, rowing in the same direction. And we were able to get things done in a couple of weeks which is a great model not only for this issue, but future issues,” continued Zucchet.

“It’s a testament to our city employees that are here behind me,” concluded Faulconer, “and the thousands that are part of four city employee groups.”

Don’t look for a number of million dollar ideas, but the mayor believes hundred of thousands of dollars in savings are out there and the employees will be wanting those bonuses. It’s sort of a raise they can give themselves.

Categories: KUSI