Civil Service Reform: When to vest lifetime health
One-year implementation of Civil Service reform is explained by
Phil Ginsburg at right, director of the Human Resources Department.
Mayor Newsom projects six-month to one-year continuing labor negotiations
may contain spiraling retire health care costs.
By Pat Murphy and Luke
June 12, 2006
Continuing labor negotiations may reduce the projected 20% annual
jump in City retiree health care costs, the San Francisco mayor
With 46% of City workers over the age of 50, the coming surge
of retirements represent health care costs too great for the City
to bear, maintains Mayor Gavin Newsom.
Unions represent 98% of the 27,000 City managerial and employee
work force. City government is the largest employer in San Francisco.
The City paid $30 million in 2000 for retiree health care compared
to $100 million it will have paid out in 2006.
At issue in continuing negotiations is the number of years City
employees must work to gain lifetime health care benefits.
Currently San Francisco vests City workers with lifetime health
benefits after five years of employment.
The Newsom administration aims to raise the number of years required
for vesting, although negotiating the exact number of years is
projected to last six to 12 months.
It is among the last unresolved issues in City reform of the
Civil Service System, Newsom briefed City Hall reporters Thursday.
Newsom gave his report on the one year anniversary of his announced
intention to reform Civil Service
He was joined by Phil Ginsburg, director of the Human Resources
Department, who implemented reform measures.
"Right now we are fully funding retiree health care benefits
after five years of employment," detailed Phil Ginsburg.
San Francisco is one of the few cities in the country which vest
lifetime benefits that soon, Newsom asserted.
"We can't afford to maintain that practice - nobody can.
Retiree health care benefits are increasing approximately 20%
a year," contended Newsom.
"Say you're 19-years-old. You leave the City because you're
moving to Wisconsin at (age) twenty-four.
"When you retire, even though you're in Wisconsin, San Francisco
will take care of your family forever and you'll have the best
benefits in the world," Newsom stated.
"I would argue the biggest discussion that needs to be made
in this City is the cost of health care.
"I think it is the greatest domestic challenge that we face
in this country, outside of global warming, and we as a City have
to reconcile that soon."
On related issues, Newsom announced he will not veto a ban on
corporate political donations unanimously passed last week by
the Board of Supervisors.
And new consideration of requiring labor representatives to register
as political lobbyists is "not high on my agenda."
The ban on corporate donations "passed unanimously,"
"I respect the wisdom of the board.
"I'm not going to veto it."
The mayor recalled he once proposed labor representatives be
required to register as political lobbyists.
"I brought that up once when I was member on the Board of
"Boy, did I get blowback. I think I had posters all over
town when I brought that up. Supervisor (Barbara) Kauffman and
I brought that up.
"I just got on the board - youthful exuberance.
"Barbara, (who) was trying to mentor me at the time, said
'Do you really know what you're doing?'
"I said, 'Well Barbara what is this? It just seemed to make
sense,' " Newsom laughed.
The issue is not a high priority for the mayor, he added.
"That's not high on my agenda," continued Newsom.
"I could be persuaded to have a real discussion on that,
but... frankly that's not high on my agenda - that topic of registering
labor as lobbyists.
"I haven't seen it in the last six or seven years of being
a substantial issue.
"I mean it's not to me a big problem so I really don't have
a strong opinion."