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Faulconer and Alvarez Supported Pay Hikes for City Employees — How Much Turns into a Fight

In a new mailer, Kevin Faulconer’s campaign tries to hint at what happened in closed-door negotiations to pan his rival.

Twice this week, this claim from Kevin Faulconer’s campaign for mayor has landed in my mailbox.

alvarezmassive

Note that point: “Alvarez supported massive government union salary hikes last year.”

This seemed weird to me because the only raises for city employees that were approved last year came with Faulconer’s vote of support as well. It was a package of five-year labor agreements with all of the city’s unions.

Faulconer went so far as to issue a press release saying it was actually his deal the Council had signed off on.

Scott Lewis on Politics LogoThe agreement meant that employees’ pensionable pay was frozen. That is, any raises they got would not be added to their salaries when it came time to calculate their pensions. But they still got across-the-board raises. Most city employees got increases of 5.25 percent. Police officers got 7 percent raises.

Faulconer was excited that all sides had come to the “historic” agreement after tough negotiations with the unions.

So, if Alvarez is guilty of supporting massive raises for “government unions,” isn’t Faulconer as well?

Faulconer’s team says no — because Alvarez wanted more. Note the citations Faulconer offers for his claim about Alvarez. They’re to this KPBS post and this U-T story. The KPBS post notes that unions wanted increases of 1 percent, 1.5 percent, 2.5 percent, 4.5 percent and 5 percent, respectively over the five years.

But neither of those stories mention Alvarez’ support for that or for a “massive” raise for government employees.

What’s more, Faulconer and Alvarez are not supposed to talk about what happened in those negotiations. In fact, just weeks after the deal was made, Faulconer sat for a discussion with me and declined to reveal anything about what was said as the deal was made. He did say he negotiated directly with former Mayor Bob Filner.

The campaign pointed us to those news articles about the talks.

“It was documented at the time that Mayor Filner and Democrats on the City Council, including David Alvarez, were pushing for larger salary increases than what was eventually approved in the final five-year labor deal,” Faulconer’s campaign spokesman Matt Awbrey wrote to us when we asked what the mailer was referring to.

On Twitter Tuesday, Craig Gustafson from the U-T, who wrote the story cited by the Faulconer mailer, said that “it was common knowledge that Dems wanted big raises for workers while Reps wanted small raise.” And “Final deal basically split the difference.”

So Alvarez supposedly wanted a bigger raise for city employees. Faulconer wanted a small raise for city employees. They agreed to something in the middle. And they can’t talk about what went on in negotiations.

Yet Faulconer now says Alvarez supported a massive raise.

No doubt, if you want a tougher negotiator with city unions, and this is a high priority to you, you should probably give Faulconer your vote.

But it’s not clear where support for across-the-board city employee pay increases cross over into the “massive” territory.

All we know is that, according to Faulconer, it’s just somewhere above 7 percent.

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