Tukwila may cut city workers’ pay 10% because of COVID-19

While emergency professionals worldwide battle the coronavirus, first responders in Tukwila learned Tuesday their pay may be cut because of COVID-19.

Tukwila’s Human Resources Director Juan Padilla sent an email to all city workers Tuesday that revealed “Due to COVID-19… sacrifices must be made in the short-term.” Effective May 1, “the city of Tukwila intends to implement a citywide wage reduction of 10% for all employees” both union and non-union alike.

Lois Keller, wife of a Tukwila firefighter, was so angered by the news she contacted KIRO 7.

“I don’t fault them completely,” Keller said of city officials. “They’re probably nervous about how they’re going to cover their budgets.”

“I just felt that they were jumping the gun and saying this is going to happen before having discussions, or before throwing other ideas out there,” Keller added. The stay-at-home Covington mother of three believes, while first responders are caring for people who may have contracted COVID-19, a pay-cut right now is “not the right way to go about it.”

KIRO 7 asked Tukwila City officials for a Skype interview to discuss the potential cuts, but instead received an email from Padilla that seemed to back-off his Tuesday stance just a bit.

Below is an email Padilla sent to KIRO 7:

  • Thank you for reaching out. I am forwarding you the communication that went to all staff yesterday. It is correct that we have initiated conversations with our labor partners regarding potential actions the City may need to take to mitigate the effects of lost revenues associated with the coronavirus pandemic. However, as you will see, no decisions have been made.
  • In the attached memo you will see that the City has already initiated efforts that will save $4 million and we have identified an additional $2.1 million in savings needed. A potential reduction in pay is only one of the tools available to close this gap. The City is obligated to bargain any potential reduction in salary with represented staff, and yesterday we initiated that process in order to honor the specifics of our contractual commitments.
  • As you know, this issue is rapidly changing and there remains significant uncertainty as to the duration of the coronavirus response. With most businesses in the City closed, the City of Tukwila is projected to lose significant revenue. We are currently reviewing all options to reduce expenditures accordingly.

On Wednesday, the Human Resources Director wrote, Tukwila has “initiated conversations with our labor partners regarding potential actions the City may need to take to mitigate the effects of lost revenues associated with the coronavirus pandemic.”

However, “no decisions have been made.”

With most businesses closed, Tukwila is projected to lose more than $6 million in revenue between March and June, according to an email sent by Finance Director Vicky Carlsen to the city and Mayor of Tukwila dated March 31, 2020.

According to Padilla, such severe losses show why the city is trying to reduce expenditures.

Below is a memo sent to KIRO 7 from the city of Tukwila.

Cumulative impact of Lost Revenue is as follows:

March only $1,105,000

March – April $3,105,000

March – May $4,655,000

March – June $6,305,000