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on Sep 8, 2009
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The union workers should be thankful they have a job in this bad economy.
Did productivity go down twenty five percent? Can we gets some quantifiable facts? Will a fifty percent sickout make a dent in city services? It's like a poker game and the SEIU has been called. Prior SEIU leadership would never have gambled away their credibility.
I wonder how many employees called in sick on the day after Labor Day last year. Or what percentage of managers called in sick today. I'm thinking that this might not be too out of the ordinary for government employees who normally don't face the same amount of discipline as the rest of us when calling in sick after a holiday weekend.
I'm thinking that the City Manager and HR Director may be just trying to use this ordinary occurance to put SEIU is a bad light and gain residents' support in the negotiation "battle of words."
I may be wrong but I think they should have provided these additional numbers.
Don't get me wrong, either way I think it is ridiculous that that many people would call in sick knowing we all depend on them to do their jobs and for which we all pay for. In addition, Lynn Krug's statement "It is the beginning of flu season, and I can only guess that the individual employees may have become ill from the stress of the City of Palo Alto contract negotiation" is reprehensible and I hope all SEIU members get a clue and remove her as their spokesperson.
Contrary to what councilman Burn states, the union leadership DID contact its members through their stewards this last Thursday and Friday. We were told that the union did not support the sick out, AND that employees who did call in sick would likely have to bring in proof of sickness (IE: doctor's note).
I agree that Lynn Krug should be removed as union spoke person.
Was it a true sickout? Or just a 4 day weekend for many. I wonder how much the rumor was started by others and then just picked up on.
To have Lynn Krug as chapter chair making comments like she did reflects very poorly on the union. Given our state's double digit unemployment, I will gladly endure the inconveniences of letting the City fire all these people, get rid of the union and hire some of the unemployed who will undoubtedly appreciate having a job.
The lesson may be that PA can do very well with a 25%+ reduction in city workforce.
Good to see that the SEIU flyer is now getting broader coverage.
We don't need those city workers. Fire them. Hire other people who really care about work ethics and the city and are not just in it for the ridiculously high pension and benefits for life.
If palo alto union workers do not understand that in this economy they are lucky to have a job , then they should do strowberry venders work and venders will to union workrs job , so union workers will expiriance how hard ,painfull ,and that is also very risky work venders do for very littil money or sometimes no money atall.unions are bringing tne contry down.
If what you stated was true [ie: doctor's note], then I would say this kind of knee-jerk reaction from the City may cause a negative situation to escalate.
If they have to bring in a doctor's note for one day sickleave, they may as well take 3-4 days sickleave to worth the hassle. We know that the doctor would give them a note anyway.
Like it or not, we DO need those city workers to come back to work. If you offer to fire them all; you have never led any team in your life.
As a resident I haven't missed them at all, but I understand the Utility Dept couldn't offer service today. Hope a sewer line doesn't break!!!
As a local government employee, it's been my observation that most employees that I work with do not call in sick the day after a holiday weekend. If they are to take time off it's typically by way of vacation time.
As far as calling in sick, the typical policy that I have come across is a doctors note is required after the third day of being sick.
I have never been one to follow what the union says or does, but to all those that think these jobs are easily filled think again. The City of Palo Alto has high standards and we as a community won't accept what takes place in other communities that are lacking in these standards. Yes, there are lots of people out of work and yes there are positions that can be trimmed within the City but having a strawberry vendor installing utility transmission lines or inspecting the electrical service on my house isn't something I want and I dare say that you wouldn't want it either.
Finally, I don't blame the employees for being upset. They negotiated in good faith to get the benefits they have and now they are being asked to give some of those benefits up. Don't think for minute that when the economy rebounds that the Council will be so quick to offer an increase in benefits as they have in wanting to take them away. Remember, the Council agreed to these benefits. The higher benefits that the City employees have makes up for the lower salaries as they compare to other jurisdictions. This is why, if the employees lose some of these benefits, we will see extremely talented and well respected employees retire which doesn't bode well for our City. I understand we have a budget shortfall but I don't think it should be made up on the backs of the employees.
If you believe that your first step is to fire the SEIU PA leadership tomorrow and let us know when it is done.
It is unclear to me that any union sanctioned or encouraged sick out occurred.
I suppose it is possible the union tried to pull off a sick out.
It is also possible that a few people did it on their own, and the city is running with the ball.
It could even be that a rumor was started of a sick out, some people ran with it.
It's just odd that 95% of the city workers would vote for a strike authorization yet, IF a sick out was organized, only 25% participate. Something is fishy here.
I can say from experience that people tend to call in sick in order to get extended weekends.
But I did (FINALLY) see the flyer via the link at the top of this story.
If the claims are true then the union person who wrote the flyer does indeed have egg on their face. An attorney will have to address some of Sharon's more vitriolic claims as to how far it can legally go. But if the quotes were an incestuous play back of the unions original quote, the fall out doesn't need any legal add ons.
The SEIU website for Palo Alto
doesn't address this issue. However the 8/28 press release does seem to make the same claims, minus the newspaper quotes.
But beyond that, what of the claims themselves?
Clearly this is going to court,civil and criminal, the records will speak for the peolple IMHO
I don't have a job right now and would love a City of PA job, especially if the rumors are true that parks' office workers can make 80,000 per year PLUS benefits and a lifetime pension.
I work for the city and I had no knowledge about a sick out so I think it must have been a work-unit or units decision. Other people I work with had no idea either. The union did not suggest this to us.
I work in the Library and did not hear about a sick out. None of my coworkers knew about it. I'm guessing it was mainly confined to Public Works/Utilities (Lynn Krug's area). They tend to be the more hardcore union folks. The rest of us are just normal people trying to earn a living.
"Remember, the Council agreed to these benefits."
So what? The council has changed its mind due to reality. Look, no one blames the union folks for pillaging the public coffers--the city let them do it. Now that the economy has turned, however, it is quite clear that the exaggerated salaries and benefits will have to be chopped. The union should expect zero public support. Take the cuts or take a hike. The longer you wait, the more it will cost you.
"The higher benefits that the City employees have makes up for the lower salaries as they compare to other jurisdictions." Both salaries and benefits are vastly inflated. They both need to be cut.
Cut, cut, cut,
I understand your comments and if you own your own home I hope you consider yourself fortunate. Trying to live here and survive on the "exaggerated salaries" is quite a task. I work 3 jobs and still barely make it and I have a good paying City job. I've worked extremely hard to get where I am.
A question I have for you though is how do you define "inflated" and where is this definition found? Say for example a utility inspector making $70,000 a year plus benefits? Too high for you? Should we work for free? Are you looking at this from the perspective of having been a City employee or do you see a dollar amount associated with a position and think 'Oh that's too much'? Just curious.
B.G.E. - Palo Alto is full of Prop. 13 protected old timers with no mortgage or rent. They have no concept of the true cost of living here. They see the salaries or the total employee cost with benefits and compare that to what they used to make. It makes these threads quite biased and hateful.
Remember Vallejo's Goose?
151 SEIU members (25% of total City SEIU members) calling in sick on a Tuesday after a holiday will sicken Palo Altans when they learn of this dishonest tactic. Next, it will be goons chopping down a telephone pole or cutting the fiber lines like AT&T strikers did recently. Under the circumstances, I am hopeful City management requires 'proof of illness' from every employee out sick today.
Calling in sick when you are not sick is simply dishonest. It also means the City will be paying the salary and benefits for each employee who was dishonest, maybe $100,000 worth. That is a pretty big hit to the General Fund courtesy 151 very selfish, dishonest union employees. The good news is, management now knows who you are. Hopefully, over time, what went around, comes around.
Every Councilmember will soon learn I now fully support their taking a firm line with union contract negotiations in these tough times. We all are hurting, way more than the modest compensation reductions union members are being asked to accept.
It has been clear for nearly a decade that excessive benefits were eventually going to kill our goose that lays those golden eggs.
The union is arguing that, 'look, our Palo Alto goose is still alive (maybe not well, but alive). Therefore I want every golden egg I have coming to me, and every egg I can get in the future.' The City is saying, 'But wait, the growing size of the golden eggs is going to kill our goose. Once dead, no more eggs for anyone, period.'
'But look how healthy our Palo Alto goose is,' the union counters. 'Yeah, and to keep it healthy,' City management is saying, 'we must reduce the size of the golden eggs coming from that bird, or pretty soon, clogged artery.'
Vallejo's goose exploded; little parts splattered everywhere, it was not pretty.
"Palo Alto is full of Prop. 13 protected old timers with no mortgage or rent. They have no concept of the true cost of living here. They see the salaries or the total employee cost with benefits and compare that to what they used to make."
While the former is true (and I've done my own fair share of "retirement community" comments), not being one of them makes the union even worse to me -- I'm paying a TON in property tax (and the insidious property tax masquerading as a utility bill) and getting this kind of sick-out crap? Fire them all.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff] If the city was so bad off financial them why are managers still getting bounses and police and fire are having their contract delayed a year. Fair is fair why should the lower paying city(SEIU)employees having to sacrafice. As residence I would be asking why the mangement is still getting bounus from the palo alto tax dollar and why is police and fire not asking to do the same by reducing their wage and benefits. And all of those private sector who reaped all the benefits by getting quaterly bonuses, profit shareing, large cost of living raises and hugh payroll increases should realize they took that chance when working in the private sector. City employees took stability over being rich and profitting. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff]
It sounds like it was mainly the utilities dept. so I wouldn't assume that the union was at fault. As for sick leave -- it clears some sick leave off the books, so, may improve the city balance sheet. Hope they don't have to take time off without pay during flu season.
Utilities employees need to understand how much their current jobs *with benefits* are really worth. I hope while they were sitting at home yesterday they looked around to see how difficult it is in California today to find a comparable job *with benefits*. Given the general *deflation* we have experienced during the last year, along with the rising cost of health benefits, personally, I would be willing to give up some salary in order to maintain current health benefits-- I hope SEIU negotiators see it that way also.
Managers aren't getting bonus's. The Management team has already given up the same amount the SEIU is being asked to give up. No bonus's, and for a few that screamed really loudly when told they were giving up their bonus, we have an option to take furlough days that match the dollar amount that would be given up in the bonus.
Bottom line is that the Management team has given up their share and for the most part we were happy to do so. And, when retirement benefits change, and when we are asked to pay for medical coverage we will give more. It's not a fun situation, but hey, it's better than unemployment.
If most of you would stop complaining long enough to listen to the city workers you would find that most of us feel that way. Even a good amount of the SEIU workers.
"Trying to live here and survive on the "exaggerated salaries" is quite a task." I'm sure it is. You can live elsewhere.
"A question I have for you though is how do you define "inflated" and where is this definition found?" Simple: compare the compensation (salary, bonus, benefits) for a job in the private sector and with the city.
City salaries should be lower than private industry, since you get gold-plated retirement packages and healthcare. The fact that the city pays anyone bonuses is insane. The implicit contract public employees have with the public is that you take lower salaries in exchange for stability. Yet now public employees want it all.
Why on earth do you think you should be able to live in Palo Alto on a city salary?
"It is unclear to me that any union sanctioned or encouraged sick out occurred."
lol! You're kidding, right? Remember you also didn't believe the flyer existed. Interesting group you're trying to support here. Apparently they can do nothing wrong and we should bow to all their demands. Your supposed moral high-ground is eroding by the minute.
Or we could just reflect on 25% workers not turning up to work and no-one noticed. The obvious conclusion is that we can reduce the workforce by 25% with no fallout. Problem solved!
Replace them all now. With 12% unemployment, it should not be to0 hard to find replacements. The City Councel should take a hard line with the Unions.
I heard about the sick-out from a colleague. I checked with someone on the SEIU negotiating team and was told that it was not endorsed by the union, and that they were going to work, so I did too. I do fully understand why the action was taken by many of my coworkers.
Here's Lynn's quote in its proper context:
"It is the beginning of flu season and I can only guess that the individual employees may have become ill from the stress of the City of Palo Alto contract negotiation proposals that translate into 8 10% permanent cuts to employees wages, which would devastate those employees earning $55 65,000 a year..
I am stunned that anyone would think that 8-10% at $55 $65,000 a year in Santa Clara County is about "tightening your belts" or not having "discretionary income".
$60,000 in spring 2008 was sustainability income for Santa Clara County.
Perhaps, most of the City Council Members do not live in a wage bracket that would enable them to understand the pain they are putting the SEIU city employees, their children and family members through.
SEIU Chapter Council Leadership and SEIU Negotiating Team City of Palo Alto have not endorsed a sick day."
"Remember you also didn't believe the flyer existed. "
No, I just said that I never read it. And then someone went ballistic and made the accusation that I don't live in Palo Alto, another that I am an "SEIU Operative", etc. Next maybe someone will posit that I was really born in Kenya. I get the Weekly with the mail and by rote I toss out the all the ads. I kept asking someone to post what the contents of the flyer that were objectionable. Or a link to the flyer. I never said I believed no such flyer ever existed.
It is also bizarre to say that 25% didn't show up and no one noticed. The PAOnline and CPA spin seems to be that barbarians were at the gate. The whole article has a somewhat hysterical spin about it.
What makes sense to me is that there was an unauthorized sick out by a small number. If it had been authorized or encouraged by the union I suspect more than 25% would have participated. Also, part of the 25% may have actually been sick, or just using sick pay to extend their Labor Day weekend.
You want to talk about dishonesty? Why not question city counsil saying they are negotiating. They are acting as dictators not negotiators and it appears Keene with his $200K annual salary is trying to make a name for himself. But lets try and make the union look bad. Good honest tactic.
Right on, John Q! Tell it like it is and sock it to 'em. They need to hear the truth and the real deal!"Prop 13 Sheltered" - yes, that's it exactly. You hit the nail on the head. Just add "grumps" to the description and its a perfect 10.
I wonder how many people want to work on live, power lines on a rainy night. It is as if you're working with invisible fire in the dark. I dont want to. I dont think $40/hr is too much to pay someone to risk their life everytime they go to work. If they want to keep the benefits they are getting and the $40/hr, let them have it. Fireman make alot more and they can at least see the fire they are working with.
It's one thing to urge an action, and a completely different thing to "endorse" it. I had heard about the sick-out days before it happened. hmmmmmmm..... And, no - it is not cool to use a sick day to extend one's vacation or holiday. What I was told was that sick days were for being sick! Then there's vacation and personal business for the other times. Many people will not participate in a sick-out for fear of reprisals or lack of determination, so that may be why "only" 25% took part. As for Lynn Krug's comments that the workers were made sick by the negotiations: what a load of you-know-what!
There is a 27 year old in our house who is currently unable to find a full-time job. There is a 67 year old head of household whose business has not brought in a single $ in the past 7 months, but who business expenses continue to be drawn from retirement savings - something union workers rarely have to deal with.
I say give the jobs to those who would be thrilled to have full-time employment with a regular salary and benefits! There are plenty of us - all ages - to choose from.
PS No one in our family has missed more than 3-4 days work/year . . . ever!
We are in contract negotiations. A contract is a binding agreement. Are both sides still at the table working on a resolution? They should be locked in a room and told to hammer it out. We are currently working without a contract.
And it is a very valid question to ask of the people posting here, what do you do for a living? Are you retired? Some post what seems like all day long. Are you working while you do that?
If you are retired and sitting in your million plus dollar homes complaining about hard working people fighting to keep health care and liveable wages, make yourselves known.
Just sounds like a lot of people took a four-day weekend.
Looks like the union is doing what unions do -- playing hardball.
"... I can only guess that the individual employees may have become ill from the stress of the City of Palo Alto contract negotiation," Krug wrote."
The message from that quote is so thinly veiled that one can only conclude that Ms. Klug and the union leadership were at least aware of this unethical tactic. Even the full quote posted above does not change my conclusion or interpretation of it.
8-10% is a meaningful cut for just about everyone. I don't think anyone would disagree that this situation is painful for workers. It would be painful for me.
I believe the City has to remain firm but fair and that city workers could be looking at a situation that is a whole lot worse. It's worse for a lot of people I know that have lost jobs and the senior management at my company voluntarily took 10-15% salary cuts to avoid additional layoffs.
My family's income was reduced 10% this year when my husband's company made across the board salary cuts. Most of our friends are reporting simlar experiences at other companies. Our cut salaries pay your salaries and generous benefits. (Our family benefits are also being reduced, incidentally.)
Could we please work together? These are trying times for everyone. Please show consideration for the struggles of others.
Your current demands seem unfair to me in light of economic conditions that we all are living with. These union tactics feel deliberately destructive and coercive. Disappointing.
Could the City provide a list of employees who employed this tactic? The next time the SEIU attempts to play on the emotions of the citizens about how it and employees care so very much, I want to know who they are NOT referring to.
If the city workers find the work unpleasant, the customers grumpy, the city council unfair, or the tax payers too cheap - they can leave. Please, do. We need to reduce the workforce as well as the pay and benefits. It is cheaper and better for us that you find employment elsewhere if this isn't doing it for you.
Sorry that times are tough. We finally wised up and realized that money doesn't grow on trees and we can't just keep giving it away. You had a good run.
Instead of cutting back on salaries, retirement benefits need to be cut way back, and the minimum retirement age and length of service to receive retirement benefits should be increased. Retirement benefits are going to bankrupt the city Past city managers and council members have been completely irresponsible in granting out-of-line EARLY RETIREMENT, LIFETIME MEDICAL BENEFITS and OUTSIZE PENSIONS without any plan for how to pay for them.
If I didn't read this article I wouldn't have known that these people were not working.
Good - fire them. If they don't want to come to work than fire them.
The Real Question is:
Why does the city have 22 MILLION IN UNRESTRICTED FUNDS?
This is outside of the general fund reserves - - -
and the CITY IS CLAIMING GENERAL FUND DEFICIT?
The city has not denied that it has the 22 million available
14 million unrestricted funds in IT,
3 million +/- in Vehicle Maint., and
3 million +/- in Health and Benefits…
And we could be saving an additional:
4.5 million per year ongoing savings in reorganization around 40+ retirements and 70 frozen (funded) positions
0.5 million in phone bills (as described by the auditor last week)
= 27 million Dollars…OUTSIDE OF the general fund reserves.
So why is there a claim of a general fund deficit?
And why isn't a public hearing called to address this matter?
SEE: www.Paloaltoisfallingshort.com and then e-mail your city council member to ask…
Why is there 22 million in unrestricted funds?
And why aren't we reorganizing for the additional 4 5 million?
Why is there lack of transparency by the city?
If my house were to burn down I would not turn to you and ask that your house also be burnt down. Stop the hysteria...Look at the real numbers...Take responsibility to investigate and get the real story.
I see that my post asking who out there is posting from their comfortable PA homes and are retired. Instead the continued chant of "fire them". Are you all aware that after this is over the staff of the city will not forget your harsh words and sentiments? Have a single one of you checked out the figures the Union is putting out regrading surplus city funds? And finally, have any of you checked out what neighboring cities and unions have done? In a previous city I worked in, one that got a contract agreed to without problems, they didn't take anything away, but the union group gave up any salary increases. The idea is that when times are better, a cost of living increase is in order. When times are tough, the city can keep the 2-3% salary increases. Some cities even gave employees raises! Now my lunch hour is over and I will return to my job with a smile for any that come in.
Bravo city employee. Ive never heard so many sour grapes crying in my life, especially as they sit in there multi million dollar nest eggs.
"If my house were to burn down I would not turn to you and ask that your house also be burnt down."
If everyone's house is burning down then we all need to deal with it and not just give money we can no longer afford to a chosen few so they can retire at 55. You still don't get it, do you?
Looks like your sick-out didn't invoke the response you intended.
What really amazes me is that people who claim to be out of work and who would gladly take a city job are posting complaints at all hours of the day. My goodness, the City of Palo Alto Human Resources office is open 9 hours a day/ 5 days a week. They will gladly take your application and resume for review. Surely there has to be a more constructive way to spend the day then to post never ending complaints. Perhaps starting a blue/red ribbon committee on public employee costs or finding a job in the private sector or ..... It would seem the same people posting comments everytime there is an article regarding city employees or unions is a constant. We got it, either you don't like city employees or you do! The city manager and city council have hired a $200,000+ consultant to negotiate the current labor negotiations at great expense to taxpayers, maybe we can all see what our money accomplishes or doesn't.
facepalm...have YOU looked at the numbers?
clever. The union does not support the sick out...yet, they have a sick out. Not the most admirable behavior I've ever seen. I agree with those that say to negotiate in good faith, if you are in a union, but please do not use this behavior to get your point across.
"Are you all aware that after this is over the staff of the city will not forget your harsh words and sentiments? "
It pains me to read the incessant "fire them" and other "why should they eat cake when my bread factory isn't paying what it used to?" (Marie Antionette for the Palo Alto age).
I can't imagine working for the city for a long time and then have to suffer these insults. I am not talking about a reasonable position or questions regarding the long term ability of the city to pay what has been promised. But the arrogant insults and silly default inmage (even a Caveman can do any of your jobs) would be too much.
Please know that these posters probably represent a micro and bitter minority. I doubt the "teeming masses" of Palo Alto really are eager to themselves call in sick so they can do the city work. That would be a humorous Y Tube Video---the Palo Alto process meets working reality.
Woo Hoo Opus. The Palo Alto Elite are so detached from the real world they wouldn't understand what it takes to live now-a-days. One of them on another thread claimed to support his family, in a nice home here in Palo Alto on $60,000 a year. I asked him to explain that - but he never responded. I'm thinking he left off a few zeros in an effort to prove his point. Clearly these folks have enough time to sit around all day long and rant about strawberry sellers and city employees. I'm guessing they have received a heck of a retirement package themselves to be able to afford their lives. Whenever you ask them to see things from another side they start pouting like children and repeating the same things over and over again. It's odd really.
But, don't forget, they are Palo Altoans. They have, unlike anyone else in the world, earned their keep. The rest of us don't deserve to work, much less have decent lives. Certainly not if we are going to take a piece of their pie.
Will there be any jobs available, once the SEIU goes on strike? I am 26 years old, live with my parents in Palo Alto, and can't find a job. I am willing to do physical or office labor. I am good with a shovel, and I can learn to drive a tractor/backhoe. I am a near expert with computer databases. I have applied with CPA, but I only get boilerplate replies saying that no jobs are currently available. I am very eager to take the job of any SEIU striker. Will there be some type of registration process, approved of by the PA city council, that will allow me to apply for an abandoned job?
City jobsite: Web Link
However most of the jobs are in the $90,000 - $110,000 salary range and require you to become a member of the union or pay the union even if you don't want to become a member.
Most of the jobs are in the 50-70k range. Also keep in mind the "Approx Annual" is based on Step 5 rates. You have to put in around 4 years to move up from Step 1 to 5. After that, the only raises you can get is from COLAs (Cost of Living Adjustment) raises, which won't happen for a while due to the economy.
"Most of the jobs are in the 50-70k range."
What is it with SEIU never being able to get their numbers right? Web Link
"[Palo Alto] Workers earned an average of $72,662 per year plus benefits, for a total annual compensation of $114,575"
Some surrounding cities offered their employees a different deal. Mountain View for example, this year for the first time, offered low cost mortgages to all employees, not just Police and Fire.
Also, SEIU agreed to forgo 1/2 of the pay raise requested and in exchange Mountain View offered to give SEIU employees and some others bonuses if revenues are up in 2009/2010.
If any of these postings are made from City owned computers or devices, or if they are made from private devices during non break paid working hours then the employee should be let go.
We need a much closer monitoring of how City employees are using their paid time.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
One standard management PR tactic during negotiations is to throw out the biggest salary they can to the public.....ala the Street Sweeper that makes (hold little pinkie backwards to mouth and say it) "one hundred million dollars". (But Dr. Evil that's too big, no one will fall for it, let's make it $100,000)
Someone posted that MOST of the jobs are in the 50-70k range. And they then posted a Web link to what is apparently the actual 2008 wage scale.
Here it is again.
Then someone else posted that "What is it with SEIU never being able to get their numbers right? "
And posted a link to a San Mateo news article. And used that to say that the AVERAGE was a bit over 72K.
Please go look at the actual city link. Scroll down and look at the annual wages, then consider the probable number of employees (i.e. more meter readers than Senior Planners). The number of employees isn't given. But if you just took all the salaries ranges as solo numbers and ignored that many aren't at full pay grade, added in the benefits (expensive because of the healthcare mess which needs fixing) then one can tweak the little pinkie and say "One hundred and fourteen thousand dollars". And then to complain that the SEIU doesn't get the facts straight-- act arrogant and put off by the riff raff and their inability to provide good data!
The city has 22 million dollars in unrestricted funds and a 10 million dollar deficit...How is that possible?
There is the potential for the city to save 4 - 5 million additional funds per year if the city were to reorganize around the 40+ retirees and the 70+ frozen positions. Yet, the city continues to hire every month, 4 -14 employees a month , since August 08. Why doesn't the city reorganize?
If there is a 10 million dollar deficit...how come there are 22 million in unrestricted funds outside of the general fund reserves?
This is not a comment - it's a question.
Tip: If you would like a civic job go to "Cal Ops" and apply.
Palo Alto is a progressive city. We pride ourselves being in the forefront of many worthy causes. We led the green movement and are willing to pay a little more for being green. We should do the same with our city employees. Let's treat our city workers well. Let's pay them a fair wage with good benefits. Currently, Palo Alto is below the median in wages of city workers in comparison to neighboring cities. President Obama praised the unions for getting employers to grant benefits to employees. He said gains in benefits for union workers led to gains in benefits for non-union workers also. Let's give our city workers the best possible benefits, and encourage private employers to do the same. Palo Alto leads most of our neighboring cities in wealth, so let's act like a good employer and treat our employees well. I believe the problem with Palo Alto is a lack of good financial management. Let's not blame our shortfall on the city workers. Let's get our finances in order and be a great city.
The City Manager just hired another Assistant to the City Manager. This is a $116,000/yr job
He's added quite a few staffers in the past few months...it's funny how he thinks we need cuts while he adds more of his overpaid management to his inner circle...
Wow, if you think SEIU is overpaid, look at those management salaries!! Absolutely ridiculous. They also get annual bonuses of $3000+ in the form of VMCs (variable management compensation).
Yes, management is even worse. No city workers should get bonuses.
To anoy who states that managers aren t getting bonuses! Managers ARE getting bonuses!! Some have given them up but still some of the other managers ARE getting bonuses. If an audit was to be done it would show that...I do mind if I have to pay into my benefits. I came to the city knowing my options of not getting paid alot, of making the money to buying a home. I took stability while the private sector reaped the rewards of present time economy! And by the way I only make 530000 yr and most of my fellow employees do too so I don't know where people or getting this information that we make 70,000 or more a year...People need to realize that all because their investment didin't pan-out they shouldn't be trying to take away other peoples survival needs. The people should look on how many managers are really managing and how the overstaff of positions in higher manaament they city has before hitting on the smaller income people. When the rest of these bigger people at the city have to sacrifice as I do then I will reconsider. It should be a all city joint effort not just SEIU
On my way to work, so I will have to make this quick: PA employees, like a number of other public entities, have so-so salaries and excellent benefits - that has long been a tradition in public service. Apparently, a lot of people like that, since public jobs are typically highly valued. I challenge all of you disgruntled SEIU members out there to find a comparable package, wages and benefits, in the private sector. If you can find it, take it! But, most of you won't, because the private sector does not have the benefits. BTW -- negotiating point: with unemployment this high, you will find very little public sympathy. Take a big salary cut if necessary, negotiate to keep your benefits, and ask for higher salaries when times are good again.
A Noun Ea Mus, that is priceless.
You'll take SEIU over city audited accounts: Web Link
Support SEIU employees when the steal: Web Link
Then, in your posts, you make up numbers when faced with the actual employee compensation: Web Link
Hell, why stop at 22 Million: "Palo Alto has 500 million dollars in unrestricted funds". See? I typed it so it must be true.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
I, and I expect most commenters here, are perfectly willing to believe that, like you SEIU guys, managers are being paid way too much and that they don't deserve, any more than you do, to have plans that allow them to retire at 55 with paid up health care for life. Management pay and perks aren't a justification for you guys to ride the gravy train into a rosy retirement at taxpayer expense. They're yet another reason to cull the city government of free-riders at all levels - and that includes you guys as well as management.
No doubt there is way too much waste in the way the city is managed. We could save lots of money by getting rid of that waste. (In fact the elimination of wasteful management is one great reason so many posters here mention outsourcing...) But wasting money on bad management practices hardly justifies wasting more money giving you guys pensions that nobody else in the world can even dream about.
Finally, any reasonable analysis of the city's finances will reveal that there are no hidden pots of money sitting around waiting to be plundered by the union in contract negotiations. In fact, almost all projections indicate that city revenues will be severely depressed for a very long time and that the city doesn't have reserves to handle this. But let's assume that there IS an extra $20 million Jim Keene is hiding from you guys. Guess what? IT'S NOT YOUR MONEY. We have MANY more important needs in this city than seeing to it that you can have a carefree retirement at an age when most of the rest of us are worried about our own futures. Our infrastructure is crumbling, for one example. We're having trouble keeping up service levels for another.
So, my SEIU friends, if you can, be grateful for what you have: in this economy many are losing their jobs completely. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Seriously Facepalm...a link to a newspaper report isn't the same as a city audited account. And, by way of an extreme example...you could have 5,000 employees making $40K/year and 5 making $5 million and year. You could then spin the average. Just go look at the link I posted and do the new math---what makes sense.
SEIU workers aren't "stealing" when they call in sick. Stealing is a crime and I haven't heard of any crime stats on employees being arrested for calling in sick. If someone called in sick and was later seen windsurfing that day in the bay, there might be repercussions.
I make no claim to be any authority on whether or not the city is playing a shell game with reserves, etc. I have merely encouraged others to post links to real proof one way or the other.
Anna, you and other Management Trolls aren't trying to play to the market per se. You are trying to take advantage of the current recession in order to further drive up the disparity between working people's right, benefits, and wages and those of the super rich in this country. Working people need to at least hold the line, then go forward and reverse the trend of the last few decades. The times they are a changin' again. There are broad based solutions which can ensure that we can move forward without further penalizing working people.
Guess what...it is their money! They have pensions agreed to years ago.
The city manager and city council have hired/outsourced a $200,000+ contract to a non-local company to negotiate the current labor contract. Your comments are mute and have no bearing on current negotiations as the city manager and city council have given said contractor the required parameters for a negotiated settlement. While criticizing not only city employees salaries/benefits but making despairing remarks regarding city employees may bring immediate satisfaction to individuals posting comments, the fact is, these are the same employees who will be on the job long after this contract negotiation ends. It is reprehensible that the current city manager and city council have allowed the current negotiations and negative comments regarding their workforce to escalate without comment. It is unfortunate for all Palo Alto residents who expected more from a new city manager. Good luck!
Has anyone noticed any electric workers out today? I heard that they called in sick Tues. and still haven't shown up. Can anyone verify this? I like to check the facts, unlike many who are bandying "facts" around like badminton birdies.
Geez, Cal - that would be "your comments are MOOT" and "disparaging" remarks about City employees. Meanwhile, there are valid complaints on both sides, as always. All City workers aren't hard workers (and I say this after 25 years of working there), and all management isn't overpaid. I quit the union many years ago, because they were one-sided and ultra manipulative (as in sickouts and much, much worse).
How on earth could the City manager stop these negative comments? How about stopping the union rep from blaming a sickout on negotiations stress? Baloney! Words will fly back and forth, but the bottom line is that the economy is in bad straits, and so is the City. Something needs to change and negotiations have to help that situation - no matter who is doing it.
Sharon and others, do you work? I asked the question before and the very vocal posters so angry at city workers refused to answer. This is a discussion about work and fair wages/benefits, isn't it? Who are you to throw so many stones?
Yes I work for a living, I also employ and supervise a large number of professional and paraprofessional employees.
It is standard practice in business to monitor the use of company devices for web access and email.
Emails produced on company time on company devices belong to the company as do phone records and internet browsing records.
The same rules need to be applied to CPA workers and management.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
The electric dept was working on Wednesday. A couple of guys were still on vacation though.
Lineman, thanks for the info.
I heard the City wants employees to take a 10% pay cut. Is this true? If so, they should be furloughed like the state workers (one or two days off a month) as opposed to a pay cut.
Ask your city council members:
1. If there is a city financial DEFICIT Why does the city continue to hire MORE employees???
2. If there is a city financial DEFICIT..Why is there 22 million in unrestricted funds?
These are monies available outside of the general fund reserves.
The city is not denying that these funds exist.
The city has not denied that it has the 22 million AVAILABLE.
14 million unrestricted funds in IT,
3 million +/- in Vehicle Maint., and
3 million +/- in Health and Benefits…
And we, the City of palo Alto residents, could be saving an additional:
4.5 million per year ongoing savings in reorganization around 40+ retirements and 70 frozen (funded) positions
0.5 million in phone bills (as described by the auditor last week)
= 27 million Dollars…OUTSIDE OF the general fund reserves.
So why is there a claim of a general fund deficit?
And why isn't a public hearing called to address this matter?
Why is there 22 million in unrestricted funds?
It's your city - you should know this. So, WHY?
Thanks for the correction, "moot" and "disparaging" are so much "gooder" words. Try to keep the anger to a minimum. That said, the deal has already been sealed.
"Thanks for the correction, "moot" and "disparaging" are so much "gooder" words."
Compounding the show of ignorance, eh, Cal? Moot and disparaging are merely the correct words. The words you used were laughable in this context. Correcting grammer is a manifestation of anger? Hardly. And the deal is definitely NOT sealed.
Reading between the "deal sealed" and "deal not sealed".....
Could a reasonable person infer that quite possibly the sealant may be applied in the near future?
I wonder how many of the sick employees were off on their 9/80 day the previous Friday and turned it into a five day mini-vacation? I hope managers didn't step in and fill roles of the sick employees--that's against union rules.
Lynn Krug was selected as a union rep. because everyone else in line took one step back. Most of the union reps. volunteered for their union positions because they get to attend union business on city time and get out of doing the jobs they are paid for.
Ah, life in palo alto! If only palo altans could see through the fog or at least have a sense of humor. Being angry at everything must be life at it's worst. Ignorance is bliss! Correcting grammer or making "disparaging" remarks to an anonymous person in cyber-space is sad. Good luck!
Do you know what it costs to live in the Bay Area? How about this calculator from the EDD:
Run the numbers at the low end of everything and see what it costs. They call it a reality check.
City Employee/Resident, this is for you....Web Link
A single mother of 3 works for the City of Palo Alto.
Her take home pay is about $3400 a month.
Her child support order is useless since her ex-husband moved to Uzbekistan.
Her rent is $2300 a month for a 3 bedroom house.
Her grocery bill is about $450 a month for 4 people.
Her PG&E bill is $180 a month on the balanced payment plan.
Her phone/cable/internet service is about $165 a month.
Her car insurance is $168 a month. (she has a teenage son who drives.)
Gas is about $100 a month.
Prescriptions cost her $10 a month.
That's a total of $3373 a month of expenses which leaves a whopping $27 a month for her to put in the bank.
Is she getting rich working for the City? I think not. Is she one of these workers earning an average of $72662 per year? Obviously not. Her annual salary before deductions is less than $53000. There's no cell phone, no going out to eat, no taking in an occasional movie. She is able to save very little. No frills except maybe the cable and internet. What does Jim Keene and the City Council propose she do when her take home pay is reduced to about $2845 a month?
A single male works for the City of Palo Alto.
His take home pay is about $8400 a month.
He has no children to support.
He owns his 3 bedroom house and has no mortgage.
His grocery bill is about $250 a month for 1 person.
His PG&E bill is ~$115 a month.
His phone/cable/internet service is about ~$120 a month (the previous poster needs to switch plans)
His car insurance is $80 a month.
Gas is about $64 a month (the previous poster needs a smaller car)
Prescriptions cost her $0 a month.
That's a total lets him have two foreign vacations a year.
Is he getting rich working for the City? Damn right. Is he one of these workers earning an average of $72662 per year? Obviously! His annual salary before deductions is less than $140,000 and then add in overtime. What does Jim Keene and the City Council propose she do when her take home pay is reduced to about $7600 a month?
I'm not even sure what the previous posters point was.
A single white female lesbian Trotskyite heavy equipment operator works for the city.
Her take home pay is about 8400 a month
She has 4 adopted children to support
She has no rent or mortgage as they all choose to live homeless under the bridge near Middlefield at the PA/MP boundary
If she had utilities in Palo Alto it wouldn't be PG&E, but no utilities available under the bridge. in fact...
No phone, no lights no motor cars,
Not a single luxury,
Like Robinson Crusoe,
As primitive as can be.
They take public transportation.
Each year they take two vacations to Tahiti
Is she getting rich working for the City? Damn right. Is she one of these workers earning an average of $72662 per year? Obviously! Her annual salary before deductions is less than $140,000 and then add in overtime. What does Jim Keene and the City Council propose she do when her take home pay is reduced to about $7600 a month?
I'm not even sure what the previous posters point was. Nor mine..
Thanks for the link to the editorial, but I think we have enough personal opinions to read here.
Mom, you need to read higher up and view "City Employee/Resident, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood" post.
I saw the post by city employee/resident. It seems like he/she wants the City to explain to the employees and citizens why they continue to funnel money from the General Fund to other accounts. Your link is to an editorial, which is an opinion, not fact.
I looked on the Home Page of PA Online and couldn't find a link to the editorial. It's probably right there in front of me and I didn't see it.
But I did get to it via the link above.
FWIW my take on the editorial
Clearly the union flyer was at best a big mistake (person in a hurry copy/pasting for flyer and not looking at source), at worst an intentional attempt to deceive. And, if intentional, I would have to wonder "what were they smoking?" as the inevitable exposure...well it's what it is now!
The union has yet to post an explanation or apology.
Maybe there is some reason that they are waiting until contract negotiations are over?
The editorial seems to think it's a no-brainer that the union covertly encouraged the sick-out. That is possible, but I've also seen instances where people have been in Wildcat Mode. Contrary to earlier claims by some, I am not an "SEIU Operative".
But to me the whole thing is a big non-issue--no exposed wires were laying around and electrocuting school kids on their way home, sick time was taken off the books, bigger Labor Day weekend, etc.
It was also a mistake for the union to call the funds "secret". But to make that mis-characterization the issue is also a smoke grenade. Monetary allocation is not a one-way street. If a man is in divorce court and tells the judge "oh I can't live up to my divorce settlement agreement because I don't have the money your honor".."oh that money, that has been already allocated to my transportation fund" as he answers the call back from the Porsch salesman that his new car is ready.
A Noun Ea Mus,
I don't recall who called you a "SEIU operative", but that person was right. You may not be paid by SEIU, but you carry their water, and come up with every possible excuse to excuse their tactics and strategy.
I just want a job, so I hope SEIU does go on strike. I will very happily cross the picket lines.
"It seems like he/she wants the City to explain to the employees and citizens why they continue to funnel money from the General Fund to other accounts."
Asked & answered. Next.
Even if one accepts your characterization of me ala excuses and carrying water....
But "Operative"? Come on...it's hyperbolic ridiculousness like this which is making the right wing ever more of a laughing stock
As regards the definition of "Operative" as it applies to a person..
a secret agent, a spy
private detective: someone who can be employed as a detective to collect information
A skilled worker, especially in industry.
One who works for a political organization, often wielding influence out of public view.
Unless you think that I am a force of nature, am performing political surgery on the body politic of Palo Alto, etc.
You either build me up as some hired boogeyman and/or make yourself look a bit silly.
A term you might use instead, potentially as insulting but at least not so J.Edgar Hooverish..might be "lackey" or "sycofant" etc.
No charge for the tip.
the only thing poor about the city of palo alto is the management. after you fire the city workers, fire the city council and city manager and take away lifetime medical benefits for city council.
Interesting personal narratives about people living under bridges with kids and getting rich. And to talk about her sexual preferences to boot! Where is that garbage coming from? Will you supply a link to that information please?
You make yourselves look vindictive and nasty instead of logical and concerned. You are stooping to a new low here. I can't wait until the contract negotiations are over and we can go back to hating the high speed rail or some other atrocity.
If they dont wanna work give me that job. I might not know how to do it on the first day, but by the 5-6th day Ill be just as good if not better than the person I replace. Not because Im smarter, not because Im a hard worker, but because I actually give a damn about the city I live in, and I actually have the work ethic that this city deserves. Pay me $12 an hour, cut my benefits in half. I'm still living more comfortably than alot of other people out there who would love to just have minimum wage jobs.
If a city worker/council is complaining about their work load or pay or benefits, than maybe they need to be put on unemployment so they can appreciate what they got. Its what I do to my kids when they act like spoiled brats. We go to the shelter in Redwood City and make them serve food to people , to remind them that they have great oppurtunities. I hate spoiled people especially all the adult ones around this area.
"Interesting personal narratives about people living under bridges with kids and getting rich. And to talk about her sexual preferences to boot! Where is that garbage coming from? Will you supply a link to that information please?"
That was total sarcasm directed at the example above it. I thought the whole scenario called for a bit of extreme absurd calibration.
Note the closing sentence..
"I'm not even sure what the previous posters point was. Nor mine.."
Baldy...these are working adults with union jobs and rights. Save it for your "fortunate" kids.
A Noun Ea Mus
all of these posters who claim to want to take the city employee jobs if they go on strike can turn out the lights when the music stops. haven't you been reading what they are saying? the person who's willing to work for $12 an hour and half the benefits is a fine example. they obviously have someone else at home to pay the bills.
Tomorrow is the 15th and the last day for negotiations.
Sharon, you got the "sick-in" right, do your sources have anything to say about tomorrow?
What is the minimum SEIU will accept before they go out on strike?
Wasn't that "Anna" who had the source? Or is there a difference?
671 union members at $72,000 each
10 weeks strike to cover the shortfall
I don't make anything close to $72,000 a year. I suspect very few people in the same position I'm in do either.
The City has plenty of money. We are paying for two city managers homes and the current managers rent until his home purchase is complete. What has James Keene done for the City so far? We are happy to pay for his 2 million dollar home so it must be something amazing.
We have the "Let them eat cake" kind of attitude. Are we really Republicans driving around in our environmentally friendly cars with Obama stickers on the back?
city employee: I am certain that by the time you include the costs of all your benefits paid out, which so far in this city is roughly 30% of your annual pay, I have no doubt you earn at least $72,000/year. Add in that you can retire at near full pay and all benefits for the rest of your life at 55, with only 30 years of work, and reap the benefits for what is probably at least another 30 years, and your annual work pay doubles.
I am not kidding when I say that union/government workers really have to get a grip on reality and remember who is paying their bills..those of us who actually create the money that pays the government bills are getting fed up with any and all entitlements at our expense and risk.
You must remember that government does not create wealth, it spends it. When the goose that actually creates the wealth that government spends is strangled, it stops laying any eggs, let alone golden ones.
You are incorrect. Including benefits I make just over 65,000. I will not be able to retire until age 65.
The economy has changed, get over it.
If the SEIU wants to end of life their hold on decent workers, let it be.
The tipping point was the head of SEIU driving up in his high end Mercedes and a big cigar.
Decent people like the library staff are now linked to ACORN, that is sad
4 legs good, 2 legs better.
The strike may start tomorrow...
The strike was suppose to start today. The last negotiating session was yesterday - at least according to the press.
asb, do you know something the press doesn't know? Can you share that with us?
It could be on now for all you know. Why does it matter.
Seems most of the community dislikes the workers just because and will most likely look forward to a work stoppage just so they can feel good those workers are not getting paid.
Wages: The explaination that 73,000 a year is a great income for this area is bizarre. Even in private industry there are additional costs of unemployment, social security, sick leave, life and medical, taxes, insurance, 401K, disability insurance, etc. "Full compensation" is not going directly to employees in either public or private industry...Let's get real.
Jobs: If you want a job go on line to "Cal Ops" ...and work in the water quality control plant, or become a lineman...there's always a job opening at the City of Palo Alto.
Quality of Life: I work hard, drive a 2000 car, go to the laundromat, buy clothes at Goodwill, live in a non tax deductible apartment, I am the sole income for my family....If the city expects me to take an 8 - 10% cut it will harm my family ... it will harm my and other peoples families drastically.
Quality of City and Community: That's up to you. Palo Alto employees record for public service and public satisfaction has been exemplary over the years...it is largely because of the city employees service to the community - that makes our city great.
not hate, not anger..but compassion and caring.
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