Despite memos received by city departments in recent weeks stating that some positions will be eliminated, city officials said there will be no layoffs; rather, only positions that are not presently filled will be cut. Officials said they were only consolidating departments to make the city run more efficiently. Union officials disagreed and challenged the state's recent acceptance of layoff plans issued by two city commissioners to eliminate four jobs in their departments. Robert McKechnie, president of the Union City Employees Association, said, "I felt that we have been bypassed on what the city plans to do. When the proposal for a layoff plan was initiated late last year, I advised union workers that it would be possible that some jobs may be eliminated. But to receive a letter from the Department of Personnel telling us of these layoffs makes me feel that there isn't enough dialogue and communication between the city and the union to come to an agreement. Believe me, I'm not for layoffs and this is just unacceptable." According to a letter sent from the Department of Personnel on Jan. 14, Public Affairs Commissioner Ray Lopez and Public Works Commissioner Tina Yandolino received approval for the elimination of certain jobs in each of their departments. "There are no layoffs in my department," Yandolino said. "I had one person whose title as Administrative Assistant/Secretary was no longer needed to work in our Rent Control office, so I simply just eliminated the title and I offered her another position as clerk/typist. It's just procedure that we notify the Department of Personnel of changes, but it wasn't about a layoff of an employee. Believe me, I need everyone of my employees in Public Works and I don't want them to think that we are cutting down jobs when that is simply not the case." Even Mayor Rudy Garcia defended his record and dismissed criticism from his opponents, who said he was squandering the city's money and not following the correct procedures of laying off the four city employees. "I want to reiterate that no layoff plan has been initiated," said Garcia adamantly. "The jobs that were eliminated were not taken away from city employees; we simply consolidated positions that weren't used. Out of the four, one employee retired, another left to work in the private sector and the other was a position that had been vacant for nearly nine years. When people [say] that the reason for this is because of the budget, I see it as negative. As I said in November, there will be no layoffs in this budget and I stand by my record." Some believe, however, that the situation may change. The city's 1999-2000 fiscal year budget has not yet been approved because the city still has not submitted an application that would allow it to sell Roosevelt Stadium to the school board for $3 million. There has been some confusion over whether the city has the legal right to make the sale. Garcia needs the $3 million to close a hole in the budget. If he cannot, layoffs would be one way to cut spending.