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No ‘rock stars’ here

Mar 17 2010 - 4:56pm

In March, the color pink is all the rage in San Francisco.

No, it wasn’t the latest in summer swimwear or a flash mob singing Pink’s big hit “So What” in unison. We’re talking about the type of pink that comes in the form of a letter from your employer saying, in essence, “cutbacks are forcing us to eliminate your position.”

That’s right, March 5 was Pink Slip Day in the City and County of San Francisco — and although the estimated 15,000 workers who received the notices are in a furor over the layoffs, there is a silver lining to the situation.

“The purpose of this is to avoid layoffs,” Mayor Gavin Newsom said to a TV news crew the day before, “to allow them” — the workers — “the dignity of maintaining their health care. I’m waiting for a better alternative.”

These layoffs will go into effect in early May, at which time many of those affective will be able to return to their jobs if they agree to work no more than 37.5 hours per week. According to Newsom, the 6.25 percent reduction in salary will save the city $50 million, a much-needed shot in the arm as the city faces a $522 million budget deficit going into the new fiscal year.

Losing a job during rough economic times is no fun … I know first-hand. But if my former job had given me the opportunity to reapply at a reduced salary, and still keep my health benefits, I would have grinned and borne it.

I understand the frustration city employees and residents-at-large feel over San Francisco’s constant inability to wrangle in an out-of-control budget, but I see this as a chance to keep some form of money — more than biweekly unemployment benefits — flowing into your household.

In Newsom’s grand plan, fire, police and Muni operators, who are having their own challenges these days, are not affected. Another saved clique: city attorneys. Now that’s the group I question. But in a city plagued with lawsuits and alleged wrong doings, it may be wise to keep them around.