city of san diego

Paid Status Restored for Hundreds of Furloughed City Employees

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The San Diego Municipal Employees Association (MEA), the union representing many city workers, said it won its grievance against the city over employee furloughs implemented at the start of this week.

"Our grievance asserted that these directives to employees who are otherwise ready, willing and able to work amount to a unilateral and unlawful "unpaid furlough" which violates MEA's contract, the City Charter, Civil Service Rules and State law related to collective bargaining for public employees," a message posted on the MEA's website.

As of April 4, some 500 city employees who work at recreation centers, pools and libraries that have been closed because of Governor Gavin Newsom's stay at home order, were told they would no longer get paid unless they tapped into their accrued leave.

The city had given those employees three weeks of paid administrative leave up to that point.

The MEA said Thursday those employees were restored to full paid status, retroactive to April 4.

"To be clear, this means that any full time, three-quarter time or half-time employee who is ready, able and willing to work CANNOT be placed on an unpaid “leave of absence” or otherwise have their pay or hours reduced – even if their work facility is closed, or their supervisor said they were not needed or "not essential," or for any other reason," the MEA said.

Anyone being instructed under the orders of the furlough should contact the MEA immediately, the union's message said.

The MEA said the resolution only applies to union members who are willing and able to work, and not to employees who "are not willing or able to work" due to the following COVID-19-related issues:

  • Confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis;
  • COVID-19 symptomatic
  • COVID-19 exposed or potentially exposed
  • Recently traveled
  • Age 65 or over
  • Serious underlying health conditions
  • Caring for others with COVID-19
  • Impacted by school or childcare closures

Full-time workers are entitled to up to two weeks of paid sick leave for a COVID-19 related reason. They can also get up to ten additional partially paid weeks classified as family or medical leave for a COVID-19 related school closure.

The city has the right to reassign employees to duties outside their normal jobs or departments during the pandemic, the MEA said.

"The City continues to work with its employee groups with the goal of allowing those who are no longer working at closed facilities to continue in alternative jobs. Our community will benefit from the help of every City employee who is in an essential service role or is tasked with one. We know that not every employee can perform these duties, but we hope many will and we will work with those who can to ensure they continue to be a part of the City workforce," a statement from the city read.

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