Time is running out for San Francisco Redevelopment Agency employees who are facing layoffs this Friday, and even for those whose jobs are safe, their rights are at risk, according to the union representing those workers.
In June, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law AB26, dissolving the state’s 400 redevelopment agencies and enabling the state to transfer $1.7 billion in property tax revenue to schools and other programs.
A second bill he signed into law, AB27, would have allowed them to restructure, but the state Supreme Court struck down that law in December.
Each city and county has been handling the transition differently. In San Francisco, the Board of Supervisors approved a proposal creating a transition period that allowed the local agency’s 100 workers to stay at their jobs until the end of March while the agency transfers its debts and obligations to the city.
SEIU Local 1021, which represents many redevelopment agency employees, says that city management is denying employees rights guaranteed by AB26 and is ignoring a recommendation from a state-mandated oversight board to extend the layoff deadline to June 30.
At a news conference outside City Hall today in support of the threatened workers, Supervisor Christina Olague said, “It’s just not fair to have so many people who have dedicated 20, 30, 40 years of their lives to building this city and to be left in limbo not knowing what their future is.”
The union is calling upon Mayor Ed Lee and other city officials to be transparent during the negotiations and to honor the spirit of the legislation, which the union claims the city is not doing.
“We need to do the right thing and honor our agreements with labor,” Olague said.
Redevelopment agencies, created by a state law in 1945, were authorized to rehabilitate “blighted areas” and usually were governed by local city councils or county boards of supervisors.
The agencies could acquire land, sometimes through the power of eminent domain, clear it, make infrastructure improvements and then transfer the land to private parties for residential or commercial development.
Union representatives were to meet with management today. The union is asking the city to honor the provisions under AB26 to grant permanent status to those employees who are being retained.
“Hopefully they’ll do the right thing and give us justice and make sure that these workers are compensated and that they are found jobs,” SEIU Local 1021 field director Leah Berlanga said.
Redevelopment agency worker Edith Warner said that although the agency is dead, its work continues.
In San Francisco, the local redevelopment agency is credited with the creation of Yerba Buena Gardens as well as transformations under way at the new Transbay Terminal and at South Beach, the site of the America’s Cup yacht races.
However, Warner said, even workers whose jobs are safe are weighing whether to stay because their rights under the old redevelopment agency are being terminated.
“Why should someone stay and work for a city, a company, an organization, that does not respect promises made under the prior employer?” Warner asked.
“That’s what corporations do,” she said. “That is not what a city and county does.”
Patricia Decker, Bay City News