At an Escondido City Council meeting on October 27, an attorney for the Escondido City Employees Association declared an impasse and urged councilmembers to send their negotiators "back to the table."
Regarding recent budget cuts, Dennis Hayes, who represents the City's supervisors, administrators, clerks, and engineers, said, "Everybody should share the pain equally, but it's difficult. All people are equal but some are more equal than others."
Hayes said that the City’s maintenance and operations group took a 4.3 percent cut in pay and management took a 5 percent cut; supervisors in his group took a 6.4 percent decrease, while administrators, clerks, and engineers took a 6.4 percent cut.
Hayes argued that 6.4 percent doesn't hit management as hard as it does people in his group. He pointed out that an administrative aide earns $26,000 per year; the poverty level for a family of four is $25,180. He asked for a 1.68 percent increase for his group, which amounts to $181,000, so "these folks are treated the same as everyone else."
According to Hayes, the negotiator for the City who asked that the employees association reopen their contract — former assistant city manager Jack Anderson — is a member of the "famous $100,000 club." Hayes said Anderson currently receives $198,000 a year in retirement — more than the total of what Hayes was asking for association members.
Kenneth Brown, a city employee who is about to lose his home to foreclosure, asked the council to send both sides back to the bargaining table.
"Because of my salary, which has not increased but decreased,” said Brown, “I cannot afford to stay in my house. I am an employee of the City of Escondido and I'm working toward a doctorate degree.... What I plan to do — which my family doesn't know about but they will know right now — is that I will choose the route of homelessness because I want to demonstrate outright what this City does in America to anybody who pursues higher education. That they can be placed in a situation of homelessness or be homeless...."
In a 4-1 vote (councilwoman Olga Diaz voted “no”) the council directed negotiators to implement a "best and final offer."