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Palo Alto eyes changes to binding-arbitration law

Original post made on May 11, 2011

After balking last year, Palo Alto officials renewed their push Tuesday night to kill or modify a local law that empowers an arbitration panel to settle disputes between the city and its public-safety unions.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, May 10, 2011, 10:53 PM

Comments (22)

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Where's the Substance to the Debate
a resident of Downtown North
on May 11, 2011 at 9:20 am

Regardless of what one thinks of this issue, the debate on this is a sham. The committee spent most of its time and all of the beginning of the discussion talking about what it would take to get it on the ballot and how fast they could do it. Many of them have already decided to put it up for repeal, they don't care what information might be out there. They weren't actually interested much in any of the substance. When they did get around to any substance, there just wasn't much to it.

If this is the more information they wanted, they wasted their time. They should have just voted on it last year.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on May 11, 2011 at 10:14 am

Just put it on the ballot - the voters will decide, that is what elections are for.


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Posted by Bill
a resident of Barron Park
on May 11, 2011 at 3:39 pm

The elected City Council should be the one who makes pay and pension decisions, not a non-elected person who has no responsibility to the residents.


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Posted by Marcy
a resident of Barron Park
on May 11, 2011 at 4:21 pm

It is about time they made the change. It should have been put on the ballot last year. The fire department union has always been very rigid and self-serving with their demands. Why do they keep their union president?


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Posted by Marilyn Aden
a resident of South of Midtown
on May 11, 2011 at 5:11 pm

I am incensed that the Council is considering changing the arbitration provision. Without the right to strike, binding arbitration with a neutral arbitrator is the only fair way to adjudicate the bargaining dispute. In an arbitration, both sides have the opportunity to prepare and present the case. If an arbitrator finds for one of the parties, the other apparently didn't make their case. Working men and women (people who do the real work) should not have to wait around for the parent (the council) to tell the children (the workers) what is going to happen to them. "Being accountable to the voters" is a trite excuse for doing whatever the authoritarians want to do. I vote for people who I think will fairly consider the plight of working men and women.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Community Center
on May 11, 2011 at 6:41 pm

"I vote for people who I think will fairly consider the plight of working men and women".??????

We are talking about a group of union militants who make $150K a year and spend more time sleeping and shopping than doing any physical labor. Thanks to binding arbitration and union influence on politicians, pa union safety employees make three times the mational average. They are over staffed, underworked, and overpaid.

Ending binding arbitration is a step in the right direction. Outsourcing the entire operation is the optimal solution to the pa union issue.

I'm wondering why government unions are necessary. In the private sector the unions eventually destroy the company (look at the auto and airline industries). In the government area unions continue to drive up government employee compensation to absurd levels. Governments don't go out of business. Insteade the politicians pile up the debt for future generations.


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Posted by PA Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 11, 2011 at 7:53 pm

Sadly, the pendulum has swung far to far in favor of our overpaid firefighters. The present arbitration system also favors the firefighters that's why Spitaleri would not come to terms with the City during open negotiations. I'll definitely vote to end arbitration.


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Posted by John
a resident of Meadow Park
on May 12, 2011 at 8:22 pm

The whole pay/pension combination is way out of line.

Goes without saying. I have to save for my families pension and get taxed to pay for someone else's! And the people taking my money will get more for doing less!.
Instead of sacrificing and going to college I should of been a fireman.

Sweet if you can get it.


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Posted by Tim
a resident of Downtown North
on May 13, 2011 at 2:01 am

If you ask me, it smacks of typical PA politics to want to pull the rug out from under police and fire employees.

These men and women chose to serve in their profession and in PA partly because of the pay and benefits. The city is lucky to enjoy truly world-class police and fire departments. These workers have homes, families, and bills like anyone else. They work long hours, at night, on weekends, Christmas, Thanksgiving, rain or shine...and when the time comes, they don't hesitate to put themselves in harm's way to protect a complete stranger.

Police and fire employees are not responsible for the current economic climate. They did not recklessly hand out sub-prime loans to under-qualified home buyers and did not export jobs abroad and build massive debt for our country. They are Americans, valuable members of this and other communities, they are neighbors and friends.

Police and fire employees also are not responsible for the "PA process," which keeps so many developers, businesses, and their money away from town. Look next door to Mountain View, their financial situation is healthy.

Instead of placing misguided blame and punishment on hard-working police and fire employees, the city should focus their energy on keeping businesses like FB and their $$$ in town. Stop debating issues like HSR, and figure out how to bring the next Google to town, how to boost the tax base, and how to keep out great employees.


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Posted by Chris
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 13, 2011 at 6:26 am

Marilyn, you hit the nail on the head. Why would anyone want to work for an organization where they cannot strike and then they also lose their last recourse of having an mutually agreed upon third party make the final decision? Without binding arbitration the City would merely shove pay cuts and reduced benfits to those who protect and serve us every day. I don't think any of you would accept that if it was your situation. I think this would make this City a non-desirable place to work and eventually, all the good ones will leave. I know then money has to come from somewhere but does our City really need 6 small libraries and on-call arborists? I am tired of hearing over privelidged people whine about other peoples pensions. Go work and live in their shoes for a day or a month and then you make your judgements.


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Posted by John
a resident of Meadow Park
on May 13, 2011 at 9:30 am

I whine when I'm paying their fat pensions. If they don't like the job quit!
Just like I do whrn I don't like the situation.

Their are plenty of people who will line up to take their place.

Face reality WE ARE TAPPED OUT!


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Posted by danos
a resident of another community
on May 13, 2011 at 9:42 am

"Why would anyone want to work for an organization where they cannot strike "

That pretty much sums up the situation of 99% of the working population. Certainly in the high tech sector, we can't strike, we have no binding arbitration rules, we have no union looking out for our interests.

So I guess we should all just quit our jobs?


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Posted by al norte sm
a resident of another community
on May 13, 2011 at 9:42 am

Absolutely.

Take less qualified first responders on the cheap. How often does one of them actually help YOU, anyway? Rarely if ever. Probably never, so let's slash and burn here!

Save more by closing all those useless extra stations. Clearly, they just sit in them all day.

I nominate the staffing cuts and station closures to begin at the locations nearest to the homes of John, PA Resident, Resident and Marcy.

First responders never really help us personally, do they?

Or our kids. Or our parents. Or neighborhoods.


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Posted by al nore sm
a resident of another community
on May 13, 2011 at 9:47 am

"Certainly in the high tech sector, we can't strike, we have no binding arbitration rules, we have no union looking out for our interests. "

And it shows. If you're with a large corporation like a Cisco or Intel, it shows. How many foreigners are brought in on HB1 visas?

How much coding goes overseas?

Costs lots of Americans their jobs.

Jobs = fed, state and city revenue. Goes back to the TAPPED out comment.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by John
a resident of Meadow Park
on May 13, 2011 at 10:34 am

Close the stations, no problem. What was once a noble public service has become a bloated entitlement program. Privitize it or turn it over to the county.

Time to wake up. Your ballot effort to keep the bloated staffing levels got shot down.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Taxpayer
a resident of Downtown North
on May 13, 2011 at 1:01 pm

I agree with John. Close the stations, the sooner the better. The PA firesleepers have become an albatross on the necks of taxpayers. Let's outsource the function and pay them the market rate ($60K). Instead of a pension headache for taxpayers, the private company can make defined contributions for it's employees.

The unions and their political muscle have created an unsustainable situation that has to end.

I would love to have the option of choosing between the union firesleepers and a private operation. The market place option would eliminate the unions. The ironic aspect is that the politicians favoring the unions are funded by the union contributions. The unions get their $'s form the taxpayers via bloated wages. Taxpayers have to find a way to block the excessive union power.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by al norte sm
a resident of another community
on May 13, 2011 at 1:26 pm

"Privitize it "

Absolutely. Again. Absolutely. What could possibly go wrong?

Always better to have the lower rate guy, making less money in a for-profit venture, be the one to run into a burning building to save your grandchild. I'm sure the lowest bidder will always have the right stuff (knowledge, heart, guts, commitment) to always do the job in the worst of circumstances, always willing to run into a building when others run out. Airliner crash? Gas line explosion?

Ahem. Yup. Always.

And a for-profit firm will always make the appropriate, logical, sensible investments in equipment, training, staffing, maintenance, etc.. to insure the #1 maxim of corporate law:

- to save your family?

Heck no, silly, to MAKE A PROFIT.

Fulfill a poorly written contract in the most profitable way possible. After all, who writes the contract? Your wise town council, of course! And they're really experienced with that, aren't they? You love all their decisions, thus far, don't you?

I'm waiting for the first poster to recommend wackinhut.

Just look around the country at places that tried privatization. Look at Scott Walker's last job as county clerk in Milwaukee. He privatized. And it cost the county a fortune.

He made every mistake he could make, from firing, hiring the wrong guys, not fulfilling contractual obligations, etc..

And he's the national golden boy of privatization/union busting. The PA council will do better?

Really?
Web Link


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Posted by John
a resident of Meadow Park
on May 13, 2011 at 6:06 pm

Keep up the good work "al norte sm". You make the point, it's about accountability. Kick and scream and name call but there is none.

The air of entitlement these public service employees have is overwhelming!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Firefighter
a resident of another community
on May 13, 2011 at 8:19 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by John
a resident of Meadow Park
on May 14, 2011 at 9:25 am

Look in the mirror to see why taxpayer thinks the way he/she does.

Yes you live a good life paticipating in a out of hand entitlement program.

Anyone up for organizing a wage/pension reform movement?

Or continie to let unions run things?

How much greater a percentage of my families dwindling private sector wage do you need to hang out at the fire house and live your great live(sic)?

Ans: As much as you can get.

"To the polls ye sons of freedom"



 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Community Center
on May 14, 2011 at 11:13 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by John
a resident of Meadow Park
on May 14, 2011 at 12:25 pm

Great link. Lrt's gey back to all volunteer fire departmentd! Of course I'm kidding but something has to be done. I pay over 50 per cent of my income in taxes. Property, fees parcel taxes service fees and rhey want more!


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