SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Formal negotiations begin Thursday between San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and public employee unions to resolve the city’s growing pension and health benefits problem.

KCBS’ Barbara Taylor Reports:

”These are really, really difficult times,” said Lee.

He plans to take that message to city employees as talks begin over how to solve a problem that is costing San Francisco an additional $100 million each year for pensions, and another $15 million each year for health care.

”I’m going to ask everybody to step up in the ways they didn’t think of before because they thought that maybe this whole pension system was safe,” said Lee.

Lee said that the options on the table include capping the size of pensions, regardless of a worker’s salary, and making everyone pay more into the retirement fund.

Bob Muscat, who speaks for the public service workers, knows change is coming, but he said that he doesn’t know how much.

”What we’re looking for is an equitable and fact-based response to those problems, and I think everyone on the labor end is dedicated to working hard at trying to find that kind of solution,” said Muscat.

Every dollar drained from the city’s general fund to pay pension and health costs means less money available to fund city services.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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