Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The transparency we've been talking about

In last Friday's Press, the editorial board called for the city to be more explicit when it comes to telling the public exactly what it's doing to cut costs, especially when it comes to union employees.

Earlier this week, we got exactly what we were asking for.

At tonight's meeting, the City Council will likely approve a set of consessions wheedled from the local Teamsters union, amounting to just shy of a half-million dollars in savings to the city's general fund. (Considering the savings, it should be a no-brainer of a vote.)

It might not be enough on its own to bridge the city's ongoing multimillion-dollar deficit, but it's a step in the right direction. And it's a major step in terms of the city sharing with voters exactly what employee groups are conceding.

Many will insist that union groups and city employees take more drastic cuts, so as to allow voters to turn down a proposed tax increase with a clean conscience.

But these deals with employee groups happen on Planet Earth. Unions are going to protect the interest of their employees. And in this case, Teamster jobs are guaranteed against layoffs for the rest of the fiscal year in exchange for a reduction in pay.

In this case, the interest of both the employees and the city lined up — but asking workers to give up even more without receiving something more in return is unrealistic.

The city and the union members deserve credit here for finding a compromise that helps Tracy and its taxpayers. It might not be enough to eliminate the city's stated need for a sales tax hike, but it certainly isn't going to hurt.

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