So, How Many SEIU Workers are Facing Layoffs? Depends on Whom You Ask.

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'Jetson, depending upon whom you ask and whether or not you factor in several semantic games, you may or may not be fired!'
The big news of the day in the city -- other than our pending return to a quasi-barter economy; I'll exchange two chickens for a scrape of gold off the City Hall dome I can trade to the Ron Paul supporter down the street for some mittens -- is the ongoing battle regarding pending layoffs in the health department.

Yet it seems unclear just how many workers stand to lose their jobs. First we heard it was well over 500. Then in the flier announcing last week's boisterous City Hall protest, the number 500 was bandied about. Then, the number 100 found its way into the press. And, today, we saw "45 to 70." What's the correct answer? Well, all of them -- depending on whom you ask.

In this case, we asked SEIU organizer Robert Haaland, and he answered 546. But there's an explanation that goes with that. Yes, 546 people are slated to be laid off. But the vast majority of them will almost certainly be hired back by the city.

Does this mean the SEIU is being disingenuous? Certainly Haaland doesn't think so. He notes that many of the city's Certified Nursing Assistants will be re-hired to fill a newly created position called "Patient Care Assistant." It's unclear how the duties of a PCA and CNA differ, but the former will earn around 25 percent less, notes Haaland.

Similarly, many clerical workers will be laid off and then re-hired to lower-level positions with lower salaries, unseating the current holders of those positions, who will take the jobs of less senior workers, and so on and so on until a certain number of SEIU workers are gone.

And how many folks will that be? Haaland thinks between 70 and 100 workers will be unemployed if the proposed layoffs go through. Finally, Haaland wouldn't be doing his job as an SEIU organizer if he didn't mention -- repeatedly -- that the number of highly compensated managers in city government has jumped from 700 to 1,100 under Mayor Gavin Newsom. That figure, it seems, requires less smoke and mirrors to discern.

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