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Palo Alto braces for a possible strike

Original post made on Sep 13, 2009

In an 11th-hour effort to avoid a workers' strike, City of Palo Alto management will hold two meetings with negotiators from the city's largest labor union next week.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, September 11, 2009, 12:00 AM

Comments (53)

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Posted by Gary Bradski
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 13, 2009 at 1:12 pm

The issue is utterly trivial:

(1) Let whomever wants to walk out on strike walk.
(2) Open that position up to people in the community with similar skill levels (electrician for electrical work etc) at the offer level that is being rejected (having to pay some more for health etc).
(3) If that position is not filled within the month, then give the union member who walked what they are demanding.
(4) Or else welcome the new employee.

This has nothing to do with fairness, justice, yada yada, it's a market issue, put it to the test.


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Posted by wouldn't work
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 13, 2009 at 2:11 pm

The whole point of the union is to override market forces to the benefit of the worker.


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Posted by hello - remember the law?
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 14, 2009 at 2:12 pm

Gary - you have an "awesome" idea. But, it is illegal to fire striking workers. You may not agree with that, but those are just the facts. This won't sway you, but there was a time when the 80 work week was the norm, safety was a joke and asking for a raise resulted in a swift kick to the curb. We are all paying for the greed of the capitalists in our history. You cannot fire striking workers.


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Posted by john q. public
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 14, 2009 at 9:28 pm

You can't fire striking workers, but that doesn't mean much in private industry. Anytime a bad strike comes around, things like this happen:

Web Link

Globalization trumps the point of unions overriding market forces. America can't compete with slave wages and zero environmental regulations in third world countries.


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 14, 2009 at 9:55 pm

after the deceptive flyer and the 25% sick out a strike is inevitable.
The tax payers of Palo Alto will win or the politicians will be replaced.
There has been a sea change in American politics and attitude in the last few weeks.
When the head of SEIU was pictured getting out of his high end mercedes smoking a fat cigar something shifted.

It is really amazing how the events of the last 10 days have changed everything, no one predicted it, but it is real.
Any ideas as to what the tipping point was?
Politics, Tennis, MTV, College Football, marches in DC, Acorn, Van Jones, NEA, it is hard to know what tipped the point.
Some thing is happening but you dont know what it is, do you Mr Jones,


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Posted by cc
a resident of Southgate
on Sep 14, 2009 at 10:15 pm

Of course the politicians will be replaced. Don't you know how many vacant seats there are and how many people are running? The shift is coming, however I do not think the last 3 weeks has anything to do with it. More like the last 4-15 years of mediocrity in the area of management and oversight of the City.. Also, Council member Klein was not endorsed by the Dems, due to his statements and behavior over the last couple of years.
It would be nice to see some of the more vocal, opinionated posters here running for some of those seats, but alas, the deadline has passed. Or who knows, maybe one of the regular posters IS running for City Council. I really hope so, we need some fresh blood in there.


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Posted by Please go for a strike... strike is a terrible thing to waste...
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 15, 2009 at 12:01 am

Reagan fired the air traffic controllers who went on strike:

Web Link


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Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 15, 2009 at 12:13 am

Well despite the pronouncements and wishful hoping about a "sea change" and a tipping point....congress will be back in session soon. President Obama is still President Obama and the Senate and Congress are still democratic. And friendly to SEIU. That reality is what continues to be real.

And globalization doesn't directly apply to Palo Alto city jobs. Unless we're going to fly in meter readers from Bangaolore. In addition, the final word on globalization may well be that it wasn't the end of unions, but rather the foundation for a new and even more powerful beginning. If capital can know no national boundaries in it's quest for power and supremacy, why not then also labor?

But please note the bedfellows any attempt to force a strike will engender. On both sides.

But beyond the wishful thinking and bullet point pronouncements...


Reading the article..

"The city and the union remain deadlocked over the city's proposal to change the pension formula and to require workers to make contributions toward their medical payments."

I think the proposal to change the pension formula is a bargaining chip thrown in so as to hopefully reduce employer medical payments. Many people worked many years predicated on the pension. To go back now and change the formula seems unethical at best.

"If the union calls for a strike, Keene said the city would request that certain critical employees in critical positions (including police dispatchers and employees working at the city's water-treatment plant) not participate. Besides that, the city would have to rely on managers and other staff members filling in the vacated positions, Keene said."

I read this as to mean that, in exchange for those certain critical employees not striking, that management would only fill in with itself and other staff members...not attempt wholesale replacement. ??

"While the city's public-safety unions both have "binding arbitration" clauses in their contracts (which give an arbitrator the power to settle contract disputes), the SEIU contract does not. This gives the union a legal right to strike if contract negotiations stall."

But could there still be a way that a Mediator could be requested? In such a case, though not "binding", might not the guidance and recommendations of any Mediator then make whichever side deviates lose political or PR points?






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Posted by zanon
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 15, 2009 at 7:51 am

Fire workers before they go on strike! If we can't afford it, we can't afford it.

The workers will have accrued whatever benefits they have accrued. And given how smart, wise, and hardworking they are, they'll get even better jobs in a matter of days.


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Posted by Anon
a resident of another community
on Sep 15, 2009 at 9:35 am

You can't fire people for wanting....well anything. I forgot how many SEIU people their are, but if there are 600 and we fire them prior to going on strike, or during the strike, or even after the strike, we will face 600 wrongfull termination lawsuits. Which would be WAY more expensive than their current salaries.

It's illegal to discriminate against an employee that wants a raise. You can only fire an employee based on misconduct, or not doing their job properly, or that type of thing. Even then in todays world the violations have to be well documented. Even if you opt for a good lay off versus firing - you still have legal obligations you have to follow. You can't lay off workers then fill the same positions with lower paid workers - union or not that is against state and federal labor laws.

And, before all of you start screaming about the problem being that city employees are too safe in their jobs it's simply not true. The same laws apply to them as apply to everyone else.


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Posted by that sort of thing
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 15, 2009 at 9:41 am

"You can only fire an employee based on misconduct, or not doing their job properly, or that type of thing. "

You mean like taking a day of sick when they aren't actually sick? That sort of thing?


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Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 15, 2009 at 10:11 am

"You mean like taking a day of sick when they aren't actually sick? That sort of thing? "

I imagine that if an employee called in sick, but was then filmed out scuba diving in Monterey there would be grounds for disciplinary action. And if this were "the icing on the cake" it might then lead to outright termination. If everyone working who ever "fraudulently" called in sick were to be summarily fired..the workforce would be decimated across the land. It's actually kind of funny to see people clamoring for such.

What a labor attorney once related to me----employment at will means that an employer can fire a worker for any reason...BUT it can't be for a wrong reason.

But a union contract then can add to that.


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Posted by Anon
a resident of another community
on Sep 15, 2009 at 10:17 am

If it is in the employment policy, AND in the normal course of actions at the city that EVERY employee that EVER calls in sick must ALWAYS bring a note from their doctor, then yes. You can fire them for calling in sick last week. That is however, very much not the policy or practice of the city.

And don't even tell me you have ever worked for an employer that demanded a note from the doctor every time an employee called in sick. I will flat out call you a liar if you do. Because it's not practical.

And there is actually some flack in the employment industry about sick hours anyway. They are accrued, and earned by the employee much like vacation days. The law is pointing in the direction of it is none of an employers business what an employee does with their earned time off of work. I think with in the next few years you will see both vacation days and sick days go away and roll into one "personal time off day" that can be used for whatever the employee sees fit to use it as.


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Posted by that sort of thing
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 15, 2009 at 10:17 am

It's kinda funny that you believe it's ok to call in sick when you aren't. Says a lot about your ethics.


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Posted by Anon
a resident of another community
on Sep 15, 2009 at 10:25 am

I didn't say it was ok. I just stated the law. I can name lots and lots of laws that don't make sense to me. But they are still the law. And you have to follow them, I have to follow them and the City has to follow them. Even if you think you have some right to demand the city do illegal things.

For the record I have a near perfect attendance record. I have only called in sick a couple of times in the last 13 years, and each time it was actually my kid that was sick. So, you can get your grimy little hands out of my ethics record thank you very much.

You're the one that wants to put hundreds of people out of work in a very illegal move that would cost this city millions of dollars in law suits. What about your ethics???


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Posted by Toady
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 15, 2009 at 11:56 am

Don't have to fire them, per se. Just let them go on strike "permanently."


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Posted by Another Hard Worker
a resident of another community
on Sep 15, 2009 at 12:05 pm

Here is a worthy news item:

Web Link

Note that they got a pay raise in this economy.

Also, isn't it Keene's responsibility to find ways to raise revenue to meet the budget demands? What is his plan? Taking money from the workers to balance the budget may be one solution in the short term, but what is the long term plan? He seems to be a union buster without any idea on how to get money coming into the coffers with out simply raising utility rates.


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Posted by For Humanities Sake
a resident of another community
on Sep 15, 2009 at 12:25 pm

If all the City of Palo Alto SEIU employees are laid-off, fired, removed from employment for any given reason as many posters suggest, will citizens THEN wake up and hold the Council and City Manager accountable for not watching the hen house? We do not plan budgets. We do the work.

Is it SEIU employees' fault the City is in a deficit? There are supervisors and managers who direct the workers and their workload. Those supes and managers are directed by top management, and ultimately by Jim Keene and City Council. So why do you despise the workers? Is it because we have a job? Are government workers now considered "the haves"?

A large number of SEIU employees make $56,867 to $67,392. I also know that at least 10 are single income families or have spouses on unemployment. It seems unfathomable some City employees are already working below the sustainable wage for Silicon Valley, which is why we cannot afford to give up benefits. Can you imagine: The City of Palo Alto has employees living below the poverty line AND working at City of Palo Alto? Believe it folks! It is not perception. IT IS REALITY.

So these attacks on employees by some in the community are based on what? Deep-rooted, primal survival instincts? Hatred for civic workers in general? Just remember this, in case of a natural disaster; I will make sure my family is safe then return to work to help you and your families because I am a dedicated, 25-year civic employee. I do not know you or hate you because you live in Palo Alto. Why hate me because I work here? Hate is a strong word yet it is the tone of many posters.

Thank you to those citizens who understand this mess and support us.

Sincerley,

For Humanities Sake


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Posted by Sarge
a resident of another community
on Sep 15, 2009 at 12:33 pm

We support you, Palo Alto employees! We know Palo Alto has other options available to balance the budget. Other cities have been able to reach compromises with employees. What's wrong with Palo Alto city leaders?


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Posted by Anon
a resident of another community
on Sep 15, 2009 at 1:00 pm

I really don't know who to support in this. I just don't think the city can do anything illegal like fire everyone. I think the people of Palo Alto are treating the city workers like low level animals by talking about them as they do.

These are human beings and deserve to be respected for the work they do under increasingly difficult circumstances. They should certainly not get raises in these difficult times. But I'm not sure how much I would support a pay cut across the board either. Take vacation time away if you must. Or only offer the lower tiers of insurance at no cost to the employee (which is actually one of the offers on the table) and have the employee contribute to the more expensive plans. Cut retirement for on-coming employees, but not existing ones. All of that being said SEIU has to compromise too, and I have seen no evidence that they are going to even try.


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Posted by that sort of thing
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 15, 2009 at 1:13 pm

"Cut retirement for on-coming employees, but not existing ones."

The union has already rejected this.


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Posted by stretch
a resident of another community
on Sep 15, 2009 at 1:15 pm

A Noun Ea Mus: changing the pension formula means from now on. It doesn't mean that people who have worked for years expecting it one way will get it another. They are "grandfathered" in. The part about paying for part of the medical makes sense, though, even for already retired people. Unless some miracle happens in Washington, D.C and health care costs are lowered and kept there, no city or other entity will be able to afford full health care for all employees.

It's so laughable reading the post from Gary, who wants citizens to step in and take the jobs City employees/potential strikers are doing. An electrician does wiring in houses. I wonder if an electrician has experience in climbing poles, using heavy equipment and dealing with vaults (confined spaces). Not only the electric department, but the gas and water people are heavily trained, certified, random drug-tested, licensed to drive equipment and trucks and experienced in dealing with emergencies. Can you see someone from Dahl Plumbing, for instance, knowing what valves to shut down to handle a water main break. And then jump in a piece of water main. Or an electrician from Stanford lighting trying to make the electric lines in an area not hot, so a fallen line can be repaired. Would the citizens of Palo Alto like to think about a plumber looking for an underground gas leak? The Department of Transportation, who oversees the gas industry, might have something to say about that!Listen to the robot from "Lost in Space": Danger! Danger!


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Posted by Toady
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 15, 2009 at 2:35 pm

I'm so sick of the SEIU trying to deflect any sort of responsibility for any of their actions. Blah blah blah blame management blah blah blah.

"Is it SEIU employees' fault the City is in a deficit?"

Yes. They are a part of the cost structure, are they not? What about the stupid work rules that all unions negotiate to ensure that more people are employed that are actually needed?

"A large number of SEIU employees make $56,867 to $67,392. I also know that at least 10 are single income families or have spouses on unemployment. It seems unfathomable some City employees are already working below the sustainable wage for Silicon Valley, which is why we cannot afford to give up benefits. Can you imagine: The City of Palo Alto has employees living below the poverty line AND working at City of Palo Alto? Believe it folks! It is not perception. IT IS REALITY."

What about benefits? Are you factoring those costs in? And guess what, there are at least 10 single income families probably paying your salary from the taxes they're paying.

You're paid to do a job, not to get on some sort of welfare. Get over it. We taxpayers are sick of the con job the SEIU is foisting on the public.

Your entitlement attitude is sickening.


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Posted by Anon
a resident of another community
on Sep 15, 2009 at 2:45 pm

What's sickening is listening to the Palo Alto residents, the most common of which are far wealthier than the rest of us, sitting in their million dollar homes, driving their BMW's preaching about entitlement as they lay claim to "their money", "their city", and "their rights".

I don't understand how people with such privileged lives can be so bitter. Look around, Palo Alto is a beautiful place. Be happy, relax, enjoy everything you've worked for rather than spending your time furiously typing out disparaging insults to people you don't know who are in a situation you don't have enough details to understand properly.


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Posted by that sort of thing
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 15, 2009 at 2:56 pm

Hey, FHS, the AVERAGE salary is $72,000! The AVERAGE total compensation is over $110,000! That's the REALITY!


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Posted by Toady
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 15, 2009 at 3:30 pm

"as they lay claim to "their money", "their city", and "their rights"."

What's sickening is people who think they have the right to the money we Palo Altans earned ourselves (we don't sit around -- most of us actually work for a living to pay our taxes) to waste it on a bunch of people who feel entitled to work inefficiently and whine about their benefits.

Yes. It is our money. We earned it by working. We pay the taxes on it that go to paying your salary. What's worse is that the SEIU, using the dues that city employees are paying (from the money that we pay in taxes) to continue to take large quantities of money FROM US TAXPAYERS.

...and then funnel the money to politicians that ensure that the SEIU keeps getting the money that we cannot afford.

What about this do you not understand? Nice racket you have going. Maybe we need to sic RICO on you guys.

Oh wait, the SEIU has paid the Justice Dept. off too.


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Posted by anon
a resident of another community
on Sep 15, 2009 at 3:46 pm

Actually it's not the average at all. It's the midrange salary you're listing. There is a difference between average and mid-range. It takes many, many years to get to the mid range. Most employees aren't there.

Once again this board is full of people parroting the same misinformation again and again in an attempt to make it valid. Yet you skip over the questions people ask if they are going to make you step out of your angry little comfort zone.

I give up. You are angry, bitter people and going to stay that way. Fortunately the city workers don't actually have to worry as you don't have much of a voice in their fate. I hope they get a fair deal, which includes giving up what needs to be given up.


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Posted by CHinCider
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 15, 2009 at 4:06 pm

This entire thread is enough to make one feel physically ill. There is so much posturing, exaggeration, misrepresentation, entitlement, self-rightousness, and general BS on BOTH sides of the issue here that it is ridiculous. Both sides are wrong. The truth, as always, lies somwwhere in the middle. You all sound like the Arabs and Israelies - "death" (ie, fire 'em) to the non believers!

As I see it, on one hand change is needed. The benefits are extremely generous and some additional employee contribution is needed and justified. Where else can any employee get fully paid premiums for health care coverage for both the employee and family?

On the other hand, the employees are not to blame for the City's budget woes. That responsibility rests squarely on the shoulders of past City Councils and the public at large who have, for the past 30+ years, resisted any economic development initiatives. Look at Mt. View - often held forth as the example of how Palo Alto should operate as to Libraries, etc. The don't have these budget problems, and their employees are getting raises this year!

Why might that be you ask? Ever heard of sales tax revenue? Know where your local Costco, Walmart, Petco, or Target stores are located? Well do ya, Bunkie? Guess what - they're in Mt. View! But I'm sure no PA residents have ever shopped there...Seen any similar actions here in PA? Nope, we are horrified at the prospect of "fiscalizing land use" Oh, the horror! We can't even approve a decent sized supermarket for fear it might generate too much traffic. So, we let folks drive to Mt. View or elsewhere instead. Duh!

So, we have sat on our stagnating laurels - we'll always have Stanford Shopping Center and the Research Park - while sales tax dollars go elsewhere....

Do those of you who whine about high taxes even know where your property tax dollars go? Mostly not to the City! 85% or so goes to the schools, and only about 5% each to the State, County and City. Let's say you bought your home fairly recently for $2 million. At the 1% Prop 13 mandated tax rate you're paying $20,000 a year in property taxes, and that's a lot! However, only about $1,000 of that goes to the City. If you're a long term resident at older lower valuation, you might be paying 1/4 of those amounts. That for Police, Fire, Parks, Open Space, Libraries, streets, etc. Is that really over taxed?

Both sides need to get over themselves and get real.

Most of you are pathetic!


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Posted by For Humanities Sake
a resident of another community
on Sep 15, 2009 at 4:12 pm

Toady, Toady, Toady, Shall I quit now, move to a foreign country where piece work is the way and help those sewing machines crank faster to get those NOT MADE IN AMERICA clothes faster into this global economy? Will that make you happy? "What about benefits? Are you factoring those costs in? And guess what, there are at least 10 single income families probably paying your salary from the taxes they're paying." Yes. The City advertises salaries WITH benefit costs included to attract talented employees. Finally, because of those potential 10 single income families paying my salary with their taxes, THAT is exactly why I work hard to earn my salary. I do it for them, and yes Toady, I even do it for you. Sincerely, For Humanities Sake





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Posted by NoShopHere
a resident of another community
on Sep 15, 2009 at 4:25 pm

You hit the nail right on the head CHinCider regarding revenue. Employees (past, present, future) cannot accept responsibility for businesses leaving Palo Alto. What ever Mountain View is doing, they are doing it right.


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Posted by that sort of thin
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 15, 2009 at 6:23 pm

"Actually it's not the average at all. It's the midrange salary you're listing. There is a difference between average and mid-range. It takes many, many years to get to the mid range. Most employees aren't there."

No, it's the AVERAGE. Again with all this misinformation. Sheesh!


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Posted by Another Hard Worker
a resident of another community
on Sep 15, 2009 at 9:06 pm

It is encouraging to have some conversation here about Palo Alto not having revenue generating businesses. It is not Keene's doing, he is new here. But he would be wise to look at this ongoing problem and find ways to introduce new blood into this stagnant community. Have any figures been suggested about how much per year the new Trader Joe's will bring to the city?

Oh, and just a jab to close with - to the grumpy residents commenting here about taxes. Employees may live in another community, but they spend their lunch money here and that supports this City. So in effect, city employees partially pay their own salaries in sales tax. Wow, even I can't buy this kind of circular nonsense.


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Posted by anon
a resident of another community
on Sep 15, 2009 at 9:28 pm

Say even less than half the city spend their lunch money in Palo Alto.
2080 hours/yr / 8 hour shifts = 260 working days a year. Not many places where you can get lunch for less than $10 in Palo Alto, especially downtown.

Say even just half of SEIU, some 300 people eat out everyday.. 300x$10x260 = $780,000/yr that the City Employees are spending on lunch alone. Think about other things they may buy or services they may use in the city. Nearby shops, mechanics, dry cleaning, medicine, etc. etc. It all adds up to millions a dollars a year pumped into the system.

Many of you think City Staff are just leeches and all they do is get their salaries, contribute nothing, and go home. Get a reality check and stop this holier than thou attitude.


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Posted by cc
a resident of Southgate
on Sep 15, 2009 at 9:43 pm

CHinCider-
Thank you for bringing the real (t)reason to the forefront. The City has been flailing in the area of attracting/keeping business in town for a long, long time. I seem to recall that several 'big box' stores in the 90's that really wanted to come to PA. Walmart and BestBuy to name a couple. They were rejected by the council as not fitting the image of Palo Alto....and so on. As these stores went to our neighbors, so did the revenue AND all of the other business that wanted to be near where the money was being spent and people were going. Well, how does the City's image look now? Desolate, at best. Mr. Keene has alot of work to do in the area of bringing the business in, not forcing what we have left out.

Also, thanks for bringing the real numbers out for where our property tax dollars go. I've often wondered why people complain so much about how much of their money goes to pay government workers. How much of your Federal income taxes do you think went to the war in Iraq/Afghanistan? A heck of alot more than what goes to your local governments. Also, your City and other local taxes have not gone towards killing anyone, now have they?


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Posted by Retired Staffer
a resident of another community
on Sep 15, 2009 at 9:57 pm

Here is an unsolicited testimonial from Bonnie Turner, President of the Palo Alto Lawn Bowling Club in remarks that she made before the September 14 Council meeting. She comments on the good work of Palo Alto employees in preparing the lawn bowling facility for a tournament.

Web Link


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Posted by Retired Staffer
a resident of another community
on Sep 15, 2009 at 9:59 pm

Sorry. Please click the "Oral Communications" tab.

Web Link


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Posted by no strike
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 15, 2009 at 11:08 pm

There isn't going to be a strike. The union is doing a good job not giving up the rights it has a contract for. The city will stop it's excessively hard line offers and give back a token which the union will accept.


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Posted by worker
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 15, 2009 at 11:23 pm

No Strike,
you know this because.......?


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Posted by City Employee/Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 16, 2009 at 3:15 am

There are easily some 200 F/T city employees that earn under $65,000 a year. That means that after taxes, (with more often,no home ownership tax deduction)these employees are at, or more likely below...sustainability wages for Santa Clara county. Hateful remarks will not dispell the need for working families to have healthcare, a pension and a living wage.
So,with financing from the3 wages of my city job, as I leave our 1,475 a month Palo Alto 1 bedroom apartment(with no home tax deduction or loan capabilities from home ownership), in my year 2000 car, wearing my clothes from Goodwill, on my way to the laundromat...I pray that people will regain a sense of kindness and humanity.
Signed, A single Mom working hard for her family.


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Posted by Opportunity Center for Residents Later - but for now:
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 16, 2009 at 5:24 am

Poor city employees; lets build an opportunity center for them!


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 16, 2009 at 6:52 am

The city cannot responsibly pay employees beyond what the long-term city revenue projections will pay for. It is that simple.

The city has to have a sustainable budget. If every library clerk has to get a "living wage" and full retirement and health benefits, then, we can't have libraries, and, the city can't afford any entry-mid level jobs period-- or, we will have to contract out everything.

The bottom line is-- the bottom line. The city can't spend more than it takes in.


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Posted by Toady
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 16, 2009 at 6:58 am

" Mostly not to the City! 85% or so goes to the schools, and only about 5% each to the State, County and City. "

Link please. I also don't care about the percentages -- that's a red herring. In the end, the money in the budget for government comes is off the back of taxpayers.

That being said, I do agree PA needs to be doing a better job of keeping businesses here. The business tax on the ballot needs to be shot down.

"Say even just half of SEIU, some 300 people eat out everyday.. 300x$10x260 = $780,000/yr that the City Employees are spending on lunch alone."

Do you really think they're eating out?

"There are easily some 200 F/T city employees that earn under $65,000 a year."

There are easily some 200+ PA residents that earn under $65K a year. Your point being?


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Posted by Another Hard Worker
a resident of another community
on Sep 16, 2009 at 12:32 pm

Hey Fred and others,

Again you say we can't live beyond our means, a budget is a budget, etc. Did you read the postings about getting more revenue into the City? Do you have any creative ideas other than "fire them all"?

When people say there just isn't the money, I wonder why the only solution is cuts instead of creating revenue. In the community I live in, businesses have business licenses that they pay for and renew. Brings in money to the city. My city settled contract negotiations without a hitch. Business is thriving as well.

When the State debated the budget, the increase of 1 cent per gallon of gas was shot down. We have the same gas tax now as in 1994.

Web Link


Now we will close parks, have courts shut down due to furloughs etc. What is wrong with this picture?

All those that want to cut and not find new ways to fund should move to one city, say Palo Alto. Then we can close the libraries and parks, contract out the rest and leave them to go to neighboring cities for the perks. Go Palo Alto!


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Posted by Sandy
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 16, 2009 at 12:33 pm

"There are easily some 200 F/T city employees that earn under $65,000 a year. That means that after taxes, (with more often,no home ownership tax deduction)these employees are at, or more likely below...sustainability wages for Santa Clara county."

My children, both with college degrees, and jobs in the local private economy, do not earn above $55k. I raised both of them in Palo Alto. They each pay at least 20% of their health care package. They rent apartments in Mountain View and Santa Clara. They have no job security.

...and you want me to feel sorry for SEIU employees who are earning more than my kids, with gold plated benefits, and are threatening a strike, while I pay for them? Gimme a break!


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Posted by Another Hard Worker
a resident of another community
on Sep 16, 2009 at 12:50 pm

NO! I don't want you to feel sorry for SEIU, I want you to get your kids into a union position immediately so they have job security, health benefits and a reasonable wage!


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Posted by freeloaders
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 16, 2009 at 9:13 pm

That's right, everyone in Palo Alto should work for the city! Oh, wait, doh.....!


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Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Sep 16, 2009 at 9:54 pm

Freeloader,

What makes you think they don't ;)


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Posted by Pessimist
a resident of Monroe Park
on Sep 16, 2009 at 10:54 pm

Sandy writes: "My children, both with college degrees, and jobs in the local private economy, do not earn above $55k. I raised both of them in Palo Alto. They each pay at least 20% of their health care package. They rent apartments in Mountain View and Santa Clara. They have no job security."

If they are just out of college that isn't too bad. I started out at $24K in 1993 with an engineering degree. Sixteen years later I'm well over $100K. Unless their degrees are just wall decorations, they should advance pretty well in the coming years with hard work and gained experience.

As I understand it, much of the job classifications in SEIU would fall under the title: "skilled labor". My Dad was in this classification. He was an electrician with an unused teaching degree. His union kept him from being passed up for new phone system training that management wanted to send the younger guys to. He really enjoyed the phone system work and would have retired a grumpy old man if the union hadn't stepped in on his behalf.


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Posted by freeloaders
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Sep 17, 2009 at 9:04 am

OO, That may be the solution. Have Palo Alto introduce a self-funded plan that everyone, residence & employees must join. Put in a parcel tax to cover the basics and, if anyone wants more than EPO, they can pay extra in their monthly utilities to opt-in for PPO, vision, insurance, etc.


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Posted by Another Hard Worker
a resident of another community
on Sep 17, 2009 at 2:21 pm

I suggested people take union postions, not necessarily work for this city.

See list below of the unions in CA employings hundreds of thousands of workers:

Web Link

I didn't twist your words, please leave mine alone.


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Posted by Robin Hood
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 20, 2009 at 7:22 pm

"Milstead said his union was engaged in long contract negotiations with Keene and the workers had to make many financial sacrifices. "
"Jim Keene got a substantial raise which was more than what we were asking for," he said. "At the same time just recently he's recommended that top managers get substantial raises."

"In 2002, two labor unions held a demonstration at city hall to try to convince the mayor and council to fire Keene for not giving pay raises to city workers at the same time he accepted a raise."

"$2,000,000 City Manager Housing This reappropriation is being requested for the Recommended $2,000,000. There is
purchase of a home for the City Manager. The sufficient balance in the Fiscal Year
City Manager has found a home to purchase, 2009 budget that can be
but the funds are not necessary until FY 2010. reappropriated."

Way to go Jim! Crush all the little bugs while you rake it in for yourself just as you have in the past.


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Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Sep 20, 2009 at 7:36 pm

Freeloaders,

What you say..... Well, it sounds very much like Obamacare ;)

Certainly has as much basis in reality as Obamacare..... After all, money does grow on trees, and those Canopy folks do a very good job keeping all those trees growing, especially on California Ave.

Ok, kidding and sarcasm aside, PA citizens really do work for the City, not the other way around.

Consider what your taxes are spent for vs what you would have them spent for..... I rest my case.






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Posted by Gary's brother-in-law
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 22, 2010 at 3:05 pm

"Posted by hello - remember the law?, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Sep 14, 2009 at 2:12 pm

Gary - you have an "awesome" idea. But, it is illegal to fire striking workers. You may not agree with that, but those are just the facts. This won't sway you, but there was a time when the 80 work week was the norm, safety was a joke and asking for a raise resulted in a swift kick to the curb. We are all paying for the greed of the capitalists in our history. You cannot fire striking workers."

There is nothing illegal with replacing striking workers with scabs. The problem is that if the union had legitimate reasons for going on strike, an arbitrator could rule that the scabs are also covered under the union contract and that the city must rehire the union employees because of the legitimate reasons.

Instead of getting emotional about striking employees, it would be far wiser to get all the facts and then steer a course that benefits the community. If the employee demands are unreasonable and there are no legitimate grievances, then all means hire scabs. If the union performs a legitimate function to improve labor-management relations, then work with union leadership. If it's a grey area somewhere in between, then fire the dead wood and make it clear to union management that the city will not tolerate incompetence, waste, fraud and abuse.


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