Moore’s city staff review, business ‘tax cut’ concern labour groups
Posted on October 20, 2016 in In the Media
A labour group and the union representing many of Saskatoon’s civic employees expressed concern Wednesday over a proposal by mayoral candidate Kelley Moore to review municipal staffing and consider layoffs.
Moore said last week that if elected she intends to review staff at city hall as part of an effort to rein in spending and try to reduce next year’s property tax increase. She said she would consider job cuts.
Tom Graham, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Saskatchewan, called Moore’s suggestion “foolhardy” and said she’s not being specific about what jobs she might try to cut and what services might be affected.
“When Moore speaks about a plan to cut staff, she fails to be up front about which services Saskatoon citizens will see cut as a result,” Graham said in a statement on the union’s website. “Let’s not vote into office someone who supports a short-term, let-it-crumble and we’ll pay for it later attitude.”
Graham, whose union represents about 2,000 city employees, said CUPE does not usually get involved at the municipal level of politics.
“We want to make sure our members are mindful this person doesn’t have a very high opinion of their work,” Graham said in an interview.
The Saskatoon and District Labour Council (SDLC) also expressed concern about the proposal and issued an open letter to Moore to try to get more details about the proposed staff review. SDLC president Kelly Harrington said residents in the city have already been affected by an economic slowdown and cost-cutting efforts by the provincial government. Moore works for the provincial department of Social Services.
“We’re just concerned that this is one of her priorities,” Harrington said in an interview.
Moore’s campaign said she will respond to the labour council, but did not provide details.
Harrington noted staffing and spending are already under review at city hall and wondered how Moore’s review would be any different. She said the labour council does not intend to endorse any municipal candidate, regardless of Moore’s answers.
After some councillors raised concerns about the hiring of 64 new employees in 2015, the city’s 2016 budget only added 12.4 new full-time employees. No number has yet been determined for the new employees proposed in the 2017 budget.
Graham also criticized Moore’s support for a plan to reduce the ratio of property tax paid by businesses. Compared to other cities, Saskatoon homeowners already shoulder a larger proportion of the property tax burden, Graham added, calling the proposal a “business tax cut.”
“Her term ‘tax fairness’ is pretty hollow in our view,” Graham said.
The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 615, which has been embroiled in a contract dispute with the city for four years, has endorsed Moore. She posed for photos campaigning with leaders of the union local.
The North Saskatoon Business Association (NSBA) issued a news release on Wednesday saying the Moore’s endorsement from the ATU sends the “wrong message.”
Moore defended the endorsement as no different than unions that have supported her fellow challengers for the mayor’s chair, Don Atchison and Charlie Clark.
The NSBA called the endorsement “particularly troubling” since the transit workers’ union is the only one of nine civic unions that has yet to settle its contract; proposed changes to the pension plan are the outstanding issue.
“What is potentially our next mayor doing to the bargaining process if she’s clearly aligned with the ATU?” the NSBA statement asked.
ATU Local 615 president Jim Yakubowski said he has not made any deals with Moore in exchange for union leadership’s support.