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Original post made
on Oct 15, 2009
This city would have that 10 million if they would stop "pushing" businesses out of Palo Alto.
Who shops in Palo Alto anymore??
New Safeways, Best Buy, OSH, Home Depot, Bed & Bath, Target, REI, Four Seasons, Walmart, Staples, Sports Authority, Costco...who shops in Palo Alto...NOBODY.
You could not be more correct. And IF Palo Alto decided to get it together, there's nothing left to build here. All of those stores are right next door to PA. They missed the window and now, well...it shall remain stagnant and primarily a residential city. BUT, it will be Green and the carbon footprints will be trailing off to our neighboring Cities along with all of the tax revenue footprints. The Council's of past are to blame, and some of those ghosts remain.
Uhh, why the hell should these workers get pensions? Is there some unique value add they have? I work my ass off in high-tech and I get 401K matching - a pension? Puh-lease. The sad part is they'll go down with the ship just like their autoworker brethren, and our city will be toast too. Way to go guys!
Just look at HP - they had a massive RIF, cut salaries, benefits etc. None of them struck - they would have been self selecting for reduction in force. Read a newspaper guys - it's a tough climate all over. If you're not adding value over and above your costs, you're going to get trimmed. Hard lesson, but it's not personal, just economic.
> "The city certainly supports and understands
> the labor's right to strike
This is correct. But the City has an obligation to provide the "services" to the residents and businesses that these people are employed to provide. So, the City ought to have a "Plan B" which would train people to be able to move in during strikes to provide these services. Where possible, these critical jobs should be automated. Certainly training backup utility workers can not be that hard. A contract to private sector supplier of these services to provide temporary workers should be a option that City Manager should be prepared to pursue.
Umm, I work my ass off in high tech, and I don't even get 401k matching. I just get a 401k that I can put money into. So...why exactly do these city workers (who are paid very well, most better than I, and have much more job security) deserving on a pension upon retirement?
Because City workers are in the right jobs right now. In a year or 2, City employees will be in the wrong jobs and people like you will be in the right jobs. By the way, there are a few Tech jobs that you could probably snag at the city. BUT, you still wouldn't be happy when all of your former co-workers are raking in the bucks in a few years, will you?
A recent editorial put it into perspective. Public sector= job secutity, Private sector=$$.
Wilson-Do you have any idea how much it would cost to have contigency workers on call and at the ready? And THEN you have to pay them to fumble around. You may as well write off another 1 million.
So, if any of the critical employees strike, they will be breaking the law?
Does that mean they will be fired before or after jail time?
Is there a website out there that compares PA city employee salaries to their counterparts in other cities? I wish the Weekly, Daily and/or post would put that on their front page. City employees are valued and needed but not at anything over a market wage. When times were good PA employees got big bumps in pay and benefits, as did the private sector. Now that the house of cards has fallen they feel they should be treated differently with job certainty, massive benefits and 55 retirement. 55!
Why would anyone strike if they are court ordered essential? Sounds like a guaranteed paycheck to me...those on strike will not get paid.
You are one of the people that hopes for doom and misfortune in everything, aren't you? Of course as long as it's not happenning to you, huh? I hope you are happy if people get fired. Really, are you serious?
I know people like you that take a certain pleasure in others' less fortunate situations. They are called Devils in my book. Jealousy is one of the 7 deadly sins. You should review the other 6.
The house of cards was built and destroyed by the past 2 City Managers and Council who refused to promote or propel anything sustainable (economy wise) and now we are in a 'situation'. Temporary, but still significant. By the way, the wages and benefits are market wages and benefits for the surrounding communities. They are called Benchmark Cities.
And in just a few more years the zoning changes for Fry's Electronics from commercial to mulitple housing 'residential' - a vestige of another dewy-eyed "housing-for-the-people" council way back when. So now the time is almost almost here, and if the city loses Fry's, it loses BIG MONEY. And remember that a local developer offered to build a Police Station downtown but was turned down. Does anyone remember what that was all about? Maybe the Weekly can refresh our collective memories. Vote carefully. You get what you vote for and may live to regret it.
AC writes: "Now they just kill the companies they work for - like a lamprey"
Unions themselves aren't klling our companies, globalization is really killing companies. If we really wanted to fix our economy in the long run, we should push other governments to allow the establishment of unions. Those third-world manufacturing countries generally discourage unions with tactics that would be illegal in the U.S. Our way of life cannot compete with the near slave labor costs in China, India, Eastern Europe, etc.
Pushing unionization to other countries would be a much better alternative than putting up trade barriers and tariffs like the ones that extended the Great Depression in the 30's. I bet France would support this idea.
This paper is so bias. When are you going to start printing articles that FAVOR the workers? If these workers are now considered critical, start paying them what the fireman and policeman get paid. They're on call 24/7 just like the others EXCEPT they put their lives on the line everyday, all day. They don't get to sit around waiting for something to happen. Let's see if you put this one in.
"This paper is so bias. When are you going to start printing articles that FAVOR the workers?"
Once the union starts telling the truth, probably.
Very odd for a union to pursue benefits rather than working to make sure people don't lose their jobs. The negotiators must be in guaranteed positions.
Some people have in the past made the claim I don't live in Palo Alto, that I am some kind of outside SEIU "operative".....
I was earlier driving down Channing Ave, just nearby where it becomes a two lane street...
big fire on a side block, closed off, whole street taken up by fire trucks.....
Unless someone thinks local SEIU people are piping me information to my lair in Outer Obamaland......
nah, just reading the weekly: Web Link
I'm a public servant myself. But, I don't believe that public safety or other essential workers should ever go on strike. If conditions are that bad, give fair notice that you are leaving, and then find another job somewhere else. When you sign up to be a Civil Servant, it isn't just a job.
That being said, taxpayers should notice that some jobs, particularly police, can be very hard to fill, despite what seem like decent salaries. There must be a reason why it is tough to hire qualified, capable policemen. Let's be careful not to lose tough to replace people in all of this.
In response to the comment by George.
Can you imagine what the internal politics must be like in the
police department? No wonder it's hard to retain qualified personnel.
Has anyone noticed how many sworn officers have left for similar
work with the San Mateo County Sheriff's office?
And, what happened to the last police chief? How about the former
City Manager and his Admin Assistant. Anyone remember that scandal?
Where the hell are you people that live here in Palo Alto. Is anybody
in there? Just nod if you can here me.
If you were to post the comparison cities and Palo Alto SEIU salaries you would discover that SEIU employees are now below median for the entire wage and benefit package. SEIU employees are the lowest paid in the city. SEIU came up with cost savings to meet the cities needs ...but that is not what is reported. Electrical employees are 10% below median wage now. Safety dispatchers could get better elsewhere. And if you think they are easily replaced you are mistaken.
Resident for Reason,
If you read the ideological Godfather of what's going on...the (Rigged) Grand Jury report..
It states, among other things,
"The 2008-2009 San Mateo County Civil Grand Jury concludes and recommends that:
• The escalating employee costs can and should be reversed so civic services and infrastructure
improvements are not neglected.
• In addition to stop-gap measures, such as temporary wage freezes and furloughs, long- term
solutions should be implemented.
• Labor union contracts for newly hired municipal employees should be introduced to reduce the
cost to cities of both pension and post-retirement health care plans.
• For current, as well as newly hired employees, salary increases, total days off, the ability to
convert sick leave to cash, and vacation pay must be contained.
• The practice of narrowly basing salaries and compensation packages entirely on those of nearby
cities should be reconsidered. Hiring practices should be expanded to include competition with
the private sector.
• Where cost-efficiencies can be achieved, services should be contracted out to other cities or
private sector firms.
• Cooperation between cities to reduce overlapping functions should be pursued.
• Political barriers to change exist because all those negotiating employee contracts--staff,
unions and city council members--benefit when wage and compensation packages increase.
• Barriers to change should be neutralized by providing for increased public involvement and,
possibly through ballot measures."
You don't have to read too far between the lines to see how this has set the current agenda.
They want to "reverse" costs. From a practical matter what this entails is not just a COLA freeze, not just a few furlough days, but sticking fast to a position the city workers and the union would not accept. A strike.
IMO this is abuse of the purpose of a grand jury in order to concoct area wide price fixing.
Note how barriers to change must be neutralized.
The "Public Involvement" angle is being nicely stoked, like a dog on a leash, by Palo Alto Online and the print. Look at the consistent nature of the headline spin.
For this plan to work it will take an area-wide disenfranchisement of unionization and a "run on the bank" as regards working people's wages and benefits. This is no mere "face reality" situation--rather another "disaster capitalism" spin to create a new reality. Some here are eager for this. But other city workers (fire, police, etc.) and local teachers should not be naive that they will be the next to be made into quasi professional versions of people hired from the Home Depot parking lot.
Time to take sides I suspect.
your comment makes no sense. are you a union member?
the article said that the court barred 87 SEIU workers from striking. So, if they DO strike, they must be breaking the court order, aka the law.
Usually, when you break the law, you go to jail. In this case, you can also almost certainly be fired. So my question is very simple: will any of the 87 who choose to strike be fired before or after their jail time?
The Grand Jury's report seems to me to be a reasonable response to a well-defined problem: municipal employee costs are expanding much faster than municipal revenue streams - crowding out spending on other essential services and infrastructure.
The Union flacks here always like to point out that private sector workers are complaining because they chose the (mostly chimerical) big salaries and bonuses in the Dotcom boom years over the security and pensions of government work. But private sector workers weren't alone in having their compensation packages inflated artificially and unsustainably by the boom. The 2.7% at 55 pensions that unions claim the most retain to keep their members out of old-age starvation are - like the bonuses and salaries of private sector workers - purely a product of the dotcom boom. Unions pushed for these benefits on the fanciful theory that stock prices would forever rise as fast as they did in the 90's. The pensions and benefits negotiated on that basis are just as unrealistic and just as unsustainable as the private sector bonuses that have now disappeared.
And these benefits need also to disappear before they eat up the entire budgets of cities everywhere in California. So how about it SEIU members: are you willing to go back to the (still very generous) 2% at 60 pensions you had before you got greedy during the dotcom boom? Or are you going to strike yourselves out of a job?
That's funny. Do you actually think that all people who break the law get jail time? You are living in your own world. Yes, workers could get fired if they violate the order. I do not think people will violate the order. But, in your hypothetical situation,anything could happen, because humans are involved. Also, personnel issues are private and protected by law, so if any workers do get fired, you will not be privy to that information for your own personal glee. Of course if any workers get arrested, then after the trial and jailing (as you wish for) it will become a matter of public record. You could get your own copy!
If you don't want answers like this, then do not put hypothetical questions out there for anyone to answer.
Your question has about as much meat to it as "do you think world peace will be achieved in our lifetime?"
Jail time! That cracks me up!
> Unions themselves aren't klling our companies,
> globalization is really killing companies.
To some extent, this is true. However, US companies are not modernizing (automating) enough, and any efforts to increase productivity in Union "shops" is resisted tooth-and-nail.
Unions kill companies. This is a well established fact. Establishing unions in third-world countries just delays solving the problems of manufacturing, and managing, in a "globalized" world.
Perhaps the real significance here isn't the quibbling over what specifically this means as regards "The 87". Will they be fired or jailed if they OFFICIALLY strike (cough, sneeze, oops, ouch)? They just can't legally strike, staying home without a valid excuse or walking the picket line would have consequences.
Maybe the real significance is that the city attornye went to court and filed the motion. Just as the union filed a complaint that management isn't negotiating in good faith. The dance is joined and it may turn out to be, in retrospect, posturing towards a better settlement-- or part of the rush over a cliff to an all out strike.
Not much other news lately on the negotiation front. Is the city waiting to see whether or not Measure A passes? If Measure A doesn't pass will then management lose "street cred" as regards "we all are doing our part", yet still use the now more entrenched revenue gap for effect? If Measure A passes will this be seen as an electoral endorsement to force a strike by some logic?
People have aped the conservative "unions may have once had a role"--though at any time in history they would have been cheering on the most murderous of the Pinkerton thugs.....
But in tandem with the unions having less power and influence we see how societal benefits have eroded---public education devastated, financial meltdown as the foxes allowed to guard the henhouse, obscene gap between working people's wages and the pay of the top CEO's, etc.
Unions seem to be making a slow and steady comeback. If ever a time showed that political struggle is class struggle this be it.
"If ever a time showed that political struggle is class struggle this be it. "
That's right. A class struggle to protect retirement at 55 on full medical benefits and $150k pension.
Just one question, which class is the union fighting for?
That's right. A class struggle to protect retirement at 55 on full medical benefits and $150k pension.
I'm sorry that you've missed the real facts posted all over Palo Alto Online
Retirement with full medical benefits at 55 takes 20 years of service. Who do you know in the private sector that stayed at one company for 20 years? Every computer geek I know changes jobs about every 5 years.
Where do I sign up for this $150k pension you mention? Only 1% of Pers retirees make $100k/year and those are not SEIU members.
From the Calpers site:
78 percent of all service retirees receive less than $36,000 a year or less.
Link to statistics page:Web Link
Lineman, that's possibly the most ridculous post I've seen. What, you have to work 20 years to retire? How outrageous!
Here's a hint, Lineman, try working in the real world and finding a job that will give you full medical just for working for 20 years.
Oh, and check out the city web site. Jobs regularly gross the required amount to make a $150k pension. You're forgetting that the rest of the city workers default to SEIU's agreements. This reckoning is across the board.
More interesting info on PERS medical.
The City of Palo Alto uses PERS PPO. How much money are they going to save with this "premium holiday"?
Sure we could retire at 55 years old and 20 years. That would earn us 54% of our pay. Now to retire with a $150k/year retirement we would have to earn $278k/yr. If you look at the PERS page the average retirement age is 60 with $2100/mo. Quite a bit different than what most think.
Retiring with medical benefits should be the norm. That's why SEIU has offered to give up holidays, take furloughs, lower the pay scales, increase new hire's contribution to retirement benefits, and no raises for the next two years. All this in an effort to keep what we have.
CPA workers, like every one else, need to face economic reality, they are over paid and under productive.
We need to consider alternatives, like down sizing and outsourcing, to make rational decisions.
The unions can threaten all they want, but it is what it is.
Every one else is taking stock and cutting fat to increase productivity
why not the unions?
Taking Stock? I'll take some Google!
For all those who keep banging the same "outsource" drum, Sharon. I'd like to share some direct quotes from the actual court order. These statements were made under the penalty of perjury from Valerie Fong the Utilities director.
Utility System operator:
"Because of the familiarity with specific systems required for this position, the City is not able to contract out this position if a labor action occurs. The City's system is unlike any other power distribution system, and so someone who worked in another utility could not work as a Palo Alto Utility System Operator without significant retraining on the City's console."
"Fullfilling the position of a Linesperson or Lead requires knowledge of the day-to-day operation of the City's electrical equipment including transformers, switches, conductors, street lights, traffic signals, and fire alarm circuits. The City cannot contract out such work, and requires Linepersons and Leads to fulfill the task of other striking Utilities worker positions".
"During a labor action, the City requires 1 Lead Electrician and 2 Electricians to operate as a crew to restore power to residences and customers when electrical issues at buildings and meters arise. No contractors do this type of electrical work".
The Utility Director under penalty of perjury states in a sworn declaration that our jobs cannot be contracted out.
"Retiring with medical benefits should be the norm."
Yes it should. But only after a lifetime of work. Not 20 years! Put your medical benefits on the same plan as pension. After 20 years you should get 54% of medical paid, not 100%.
In any case the city web site says you only need to work in Palo Alto for 5 years to get medical - sheesh!
"The Utility Director under penalty of perjury states in a sworn declaration that our jobs cannot be contracted out."
Yet more disinformation. PG@E does it perfectly well. We can contract out all of our utilities. I won't happen overnight but there is nor reason it can't happen.
Your obfuscation does not help your cause.
"A lifetime of work" Umm, ok then what? Death. I'm pretty sure of that.
The City's website has old information. It still states that SEIU is asking for increases. It wouldn't help their cause if they actually passed on the large savings that SEIU is offering.
Here's current language on medical vesting:
"As to SEIU employees hired after January 1, 2005, the PERS law vesting schedule set forth in Government Code section 22825.5 will apply. Under that law, an employee is eligible for 50%
of the specified employer health premium contribution after ten years of service credit, provided at least five of those years were performed at the City of Palo Alto. After ten years of service
credit, each additional service credit year increases the employer contribution percentage by 5% until, at 20 years' service credit; the employee will be eligible upon retirement for 100% of the
specified employer contribution and 90% of their dependent coverage."
People hired after 01/01/2005 have to wait 20 years for full medical.
Are you saying the Utilities Director committed perjury?
No, the Utilities Director didn't commit perjury as you well know. These jobs can be outsourced. They can't be outsourced at short notice but they can be outsourced. We can't be held to ransom for essential services so, Sharon is correct, it really is now time to look at this option.
Feeling a little pressure are we? I guess not. It won't be you losing your job, at least in the short-term. It will be those in the 50-70k salary range. Enjoy your benefits while they last. Some people would care who they had to sacrifice to get them. Alas, you're not one of them.
You also need to read what you cut-and-paste: "provided at least five of those years were performed at the City of Palo Alto." Why is Palo Alto picking up the bill for you working elsewhere?
And no comment on getting these benefits after only 20 years versus a lifetime of work? Why isn't medical on the same vesting schedule as the pension? 5 years isn't much of a golden handcuff. Qualifying for ~35 years of full medical at age 38 after working for only 5 years of work in Palo Alto is an amazingly generous.
The City has known for months of a possible work action. They still haven't been able to locate suitable contractors.
"Some people would care who they had to sacrifice to get them. Alas, you're not one of them."
You're talking to someone in the most resolved work group. We all stand together for the greater good.
"provided at least five of those years were performed at the City of Palo Alto." Why is Palo Alto picking up the bill for you working elsewhere"
That's what government code 22825.5 allows. It's part of the reciprocity agreement between cities.
As for your last statement. It takes 20 years of employment and at least 50 years old. Not 38 years old.
You mean you guys have to wait all the way until you're 50 to start drawing your pension and get full medical benefits?!!?
Wow, we run a real sweatshop environment here in PA!
"You're talking to someone in the most resolved work group. We all stand together for the greater good."
That good being for you. Not those in the lower echelons about to lose their jobs because they stuck by you. Hope you're thanking them as they join the ranks of the unemployed so you can keep your benefits.
"As for your last statement. It takes 20 years of employment and at least 50 years old. Not 38 years old."
No, you need to be 50 to draw it, not qualify for it. Read your contract.
"That's what government code 22825.5 allows. It's part of the reciprocity agreement between cities."
City should no longer employ workers from other cities. Problem solved. No reason that working for 5 years in Palo Alto should have Palo Alto lumbered with the bill.
Still no comment on getting these benefits after only 20 years versus a lifetime of work?
"That good being for you. Not those in the lower echelons about to lose their jobs because they stuck by you. Hope you're thanking them as they join the ranks of the unemployed so you can keep your benefits."
We are trying to protect the benefits that ALL SEIU members get, not just enterprise fund employees.
"No, you need to be 50 to draw it, not qualify for it. Read your contract." You can still be 50 and not qualify. You need to for and also qualify. We agreed to a 20 year vesting. A huge savings for the City.
It's not spelled out very well in our contract. Try the PERS information booklet:Web Link
"Still no comment on getting these benefits after only 20 years versus a lifetime of work?"
We're talking about two different benefits.
1. Retirement: If I retire at 50 years old with 20 years I get 2% for each year of employment. That would only be 40% of pay. Not too many people could retire on 40% of their wage. Now 20 years at 55 years old would be 54%, still not many could survive. That's why the average age of retirement is 60, not 50 years old people like to cite. Note that at 60 the City has only 5 years before the retiree goes on medicare and pers health plan becomes a supplement. To retire with 85% of my pay I'll need to work here for 31.5 years, over 70 years old. This becomes the time where people like Sharon and Anna start to call our retirement lavish. That's their opinion that I don't agree with.
2. Health care: SEIU already gave up the most expensive health plan. They agreed to a 20 year vesting for retiree health care. I saw mostly managers come from PG&E work 5 years and leave. Those of us hired before 2006 are grandfathered in to the 5 year vesting.
Congrats to the "Palo Alto 87"! With the city attorney and city manager now claiming that these 87 employees are "essential" to the health and welfare of city residents, management has made the determination that these employees are in fact safety employees which in effect will elevate their pay status to equal that of police and firefighters. By taking their negotiating rights away as service employees to strike, the city manager and city attorney have stripped these workers of negotiating rights and essentially are giving these employees the right to form their own union and demand equal pay as safety employees with binding arbritration as a negotiating tool. Congrats to the city manager and city council who used this union busting technique that will ultimately cause residents to pay more for city services. Going into negotiations with the service employees several months ago, the city had only three unions and one management group to negotiate with, now thanks to the city manager and city councils incompetence and anti-union attitudes, non-union employees are in the process of either forming individual employee unions or are in negotiations with various established union groups. Now the city will be burdened with negotiating with 6 or 7 different city employee unions. Once again, Congratulations to the "Palo Alto 87"!
Well said, and I agree 100%
I hope the 87 are able to leverage their "essential" status.
Yes, their work is essential for public safety, but that's not true for most, if any, of their managers.
I love all the numbers being tossed around.
I'm probably the last 5-year retiree.
My pension wouldn't pay one month's rent on a studio apartment.
In a few months my "full medical" turns into medigap. I still pay the Part "B" premium.
So, why did you bail out after 5 years?
Seems to be only 2 reasons for early retirements from the City.
1st, To avoid the consequences of your actions (i.e. Ulrich, Johnson, Yeats, Benest)
2nd, Under duress, to avoid losing your pension due to City witch hunting/persecution (i.e. Briggs, O'Neil, Hanna)
If your situation falls under category 2, you have my sympathies.
I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure.
Sorry to hear that, but glad you were not a member of either of my categories.
Yes, you have my sympathy. For how you won't be getting the medical care so many falsely say exists for retirees.
I know there is some level of disability retirement in CalPERS. Hope you got everything you are entitled to there.
(edited for brevity..
"We are trying to protect the benefits that ALL SEIU members get, not just enterprise fund employees."
If you get to keep your benefits, services will be cut and city workers let go. That's the fiscal reality. This is a "benefits" or "jobs" discussion.
You may be safe in your job since it's more difficult to contract out. Others in your organization aren't so fortunate.
Who are you really fighting for?
"1. Retirement: If I retire at 50 years old with 20 years I get 2% for each year of employment. That would only be 40% of pay. Not too many people could retire on 40% of their wage...." (edited for brevity)
Which, again, begs the question, why doesn't Health Care have the same vesting schedule as your pension? Why should you be able to retire with full health care before you could afford to retire?
Health care benefits should take as long to accumulate as a pension. Palo Alto shouldn't picking up the tab for your medical when we don't for your pension.
"It's not spelled out very well in our contract. Try the PERS information booklet"
You're still confusing "qualifying". With your definition, only the consecutive years before you retired would count. You're obviously aware that isn't the case.
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