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Tacoma: Union representing public works employees buys newspaper ads blasting budget cuts

Post by Lewis Kamb / The News Tribune on Nov. 12, 2012 at 1:39 pm with No Comments »
November 14, 2012 12:34 am

A union representing City of Tacoma public works employees bought a $2,867 ad in today’s edition of The News Tribune to criticize City Manager T.C. Broadnax‘s  2013-14 budget plan that would slash the city’s streets funding.

The ad features a photo of the Pothole Pig — a figurine used as part of a regular Tacoma Weekly feature to identify neglected potholes —  and states, ‘The Pothole Pig Is on the Loose in the City of Tacoma.”

The ad goes on to list several service cuts facing the city should Broadnax’s budget plan be approved, stating that “63,000 fewer potholes will get filled” and “50 percent less litter will get picked up.”

“By defunding Public Works, the City is shirking its responsibility to maintain safe roads, shifting the cost of damage to citizen drivers, and exposing the City to huge liability,” the ad states. “A recent study cited road maintenance as Tacoma City residents’ number one priority. Apparently the new City Manager didn’t get the message.”

“Don’t Turn Tacoma into a PIGSTY,” the ad concludes. “Call city officials …  and “tell them to restore funding to Public Works!”

(I have requests for comment about the ad to city spokeswoman Gwen Schuler and will update this post as needed.)

Local 117, which represents about 250 city workers, also ran a similar ad for $555 in the Tacoma Weekly, said Weekly ad representative Rose Thiele.  The newspaper gave permission to use the Pothole Pig in both newspaper ads, she said.

Local 117 is not the only city employee labor union making pleas to citizens about Broadnax’s budget.  On Saturday,  members of Tacoma firefighters’ union Local 31 distributed fliers in various neighborhoods that took issue with proposed cuts that would close one fire station and reduce services and staff at two others.  

As we reported earlier this month, Broadnax and his budget team recently identified a $16 million shortfall in the city’s Streets Fund — a deficit separate and in addition to an overall $63 million general fund shortfall projected for the 2013-14 budget.   Because of the deficit, the city’s Public Works Department took the brunt of the city’s proposed budget cuts, with about 80 positions – most of them engineering and streets operations staff — targeted for elimination.

The City Council is still considering Broadnax’s budget proposal. The council is scheduled to take a final vote on the budget on Dec. 4.

Teamsters Local 117, which bought the ad that ran on page A-8 of today’s News Tribune, recently sued the city and filed complaints with the state’s Public Employees Relations Commission over Broadnax’s proposed cuts to public works and public facilities jobs, as we also reported this month.


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