400 Furloughed City Employees Amid a Budget Surplus – When Are They Going Back to Work?

By Marsha Labodda

Dear Mayor Leeser,

I want to express my condolences to you losing your mother and brother to Covid. It’s unfortunate that we are losing so many before their time. The distribution of vaccines has been a mess! So disorganized! Now, I read that Tracy Jerome is in charge of the vaccines due to her Quality of Life Directorship.

She, along with Tommy Gonzalez and Robert Cortinas have furloughed 400 City employees–at least that was originally reported. After obtaining a list, it seems it is at least 119 library employees and perhaps 20 others from the Zoo, MCAD and Parks and Recreation.

They claim these employees were furloughed due to lack of monies in the budgets. It turns out there was a surplus in FY2020 and now there are funds in FY2021. Also, the furloughed employees were told that they would lose their seniority, pensions and benefits if they took temporary jobs elsewhere or were assigned other jobs with the City. Is this legal?

It certainly does not seem fair to them and I can understand why they remained unemployed and took unemployment benefits as they were told to do so. It is time to put them back to work with all their rights, benefits and seniorities intact.

Curbside service, limited time at computers can help our libraries open to aide our citizens to look for jobs, improve their learning, help them help their children with their assignments which are all Quality of Life goals! Yes, there is a massive debt we citizens face but eliminating “pie in the sky” projects will help!

Please re-think what has gone on these past 2 years-be more open to citizens comments and input. I pray your tenure will be successful in reaching your goals to better life for all El Pasoans.


Marsha Labodda, President of Main Library Friends, a Continuing Member of the American Library Association, a member of Texas Library Association, a life member of Border Regional Library Association, Secretary of the El Paso Chapter of Reforma [an organization providing services to Spanish speakers], Coordinator of Murder She Read [mystery writers book discussion group], a Steering Committee Member of Community First Coalition