Uploaded: Thu, Sep 24, 2009, 11:34 am
Palo Alto Weekly staff / Palo Alto Online
Looks like Ira Ruskin wants foot soldiers for his campaign for the Legislature. May I hope he loses ALL of the Palo Alto vote. He should stay out of this. But he is polishing his own political apple. Shame on him.
All of our services would be affected by this. I will be taking my children to the Mountain View library for storytime until this mess is over. Shame on Jim Keene for representing the union workers in such a bad light. And shame on all of those who bash them and blame them for a supposed city shortfall. It's all the stupid projects that the city stockpiled money for like the California Avenue tree removal which Jim Keene passed the buck to Public Works. What kind of leader is he? Not one that represents Palo Alto very well.
It is time for Jim Keene to show the city's resolve to play very hard with SIEU.
Jim Keene has full support from the residents to play hard ball. The town square posting shows it clearly.
Recession is a terrible thing to waste !!!
Off-the-charts benefits for municipal workers are 'killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.' Nobody in industry gets benefits remotely close to what City workers seem to feel they are entitled to.
We are in a recession, people; the rest of us are down 30% to 50%, are happy to have jobs (many don't), and are very willing to pitch in maybe 20% of the cost of our personal medical insurance and 100% of the medical insurance cost to cover the rest of our families.
Of course, union management doesn't want to see new hires' retirement formula trimmed back or full family medical benefits in retirement to become participatory, but that must happen. Show me an employee whose family gets full medical in retirement free and I'll show you a municipal employee. The rest of us can't afford basic medical insurance while you get a deluxe package free. Give me a break.
The irony is that union management will be getting current City employees (whose benefit formulas will NOT change) to strike, to give up their paychecks, so the NEXT guy hired by the City will get the same off-the-chart benefits existing employees will continue to enjoy, no matter what. This self-distructive game will end when the rank and file realize they are being hosed and unreasonably 'thrown under the bus' by union management and City management finally says, 'enough.'
Well finally some news again as regards the state of CPA/SEIU negotiations. The last thread was totally removed, not even moved to the "Recent" list.
I was wondering if perhaps there might have been an imminent break-through and a request was honored to "tone it down". ?
But it seems not and so the dance continues now out in the open a bit more.
It seems SEIU is flexing it's political and organizational muscle a bit.
Interesting the linguistic games.
Is a one day mass "self imposed furlough", a day without pay, really a "strike" by another name? Leaving aside the issue of the correct characterization it is perhaps more useful to look at why each side might like to characterize it differently. A one day "furlough out" is a better way to put a little calibrated pressure on than committing to a full press strike. And, from the other side, characterizing it as a strike causes me to wonder if such is done eagerly or just as spin? If the Furlough Out occurs on Thursday, what will happen on Friday when the city workers return to work?
If this develops into a full strike---be it by design and plan or by the inevitable plodding along of the negotiating process hitting a brick wall----there are two poles in the public.
One one side we see in evidence here a mix of enthusiasm to use (bring on?) a strike in order to then reduce the city workforce to being as close to minimal wage as the ever downward market will bear. This is in evidence as "a recession is a terrible thing to waste". And mixed in this pot is stirred silly and immature resentment of the more wealthy/former wealthy towards workers who went the path of public service. But perhaps the lesson they should take from this is that they themselves should have strived towards union jobs instead of the path they took? Many sought to leverage the whole risk/reward angle and were totally fine to sit atop the heap and look down with both arrogance and scorn on their "lessers". And now that the risk/reward is showing it's riskier side the scorn doesn't have the arrogance to sweeten it. Just all sour grapes.
At the other extreme are people (like myself) who, although not at all eager to see a strike, would view it as an opportunity to teach a very deep and abiding lesson that "enough is enough", it's time for working people to say no more give backs, make the country work for us for a change, use such as a rallying cry to reverse the obscene rip off of society by the wealthy.
"But sir, the royalty are complaining that they haven't enough cake left in their pantry to pay the city workers".
Then tax their bread.
"...there are two poles in the public. "
Where does the grand jury sit? "Grand Jury Report: Summary of Reversing the Upward Trajectory of Employee Costs in the Cities of San Mateo County Web Link"
"Officials from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Chapter 521, which represents 617 city workers out of a total workforce of 1,055 employees, announced the unpaid furlough at an afternoon press conference Tuesday. They said they expect the move to save the city about $281,000."
Therefore, I assume using simple math that the average union employee makes $117,899.30 per year.
The math $281,000 saved for one day furlough according to the union DIVIDED by 617 workers on furlough for the day = $455 pay per worker savings. Annualizing the pay, I assume that the $455 per day pay divided by 8 hours equals $56.92 a per hour wage rate times that by 2071 hours (average hours for these workers worked per year) equals an average union worker being paid $117,899.30.
What is the job requirements for these well paying jobs?
Speaking for myself, 6 years of college, two degrees and numerous job related training.
"What is the job requirements for these well paying jobs?"
We have cement finishers earning over $100,000 per year in Palo Alto. The job requirements for city jobs seem to be a willingness to accept far above the market rate for a job with great benefits. This description probably fits most workers - but few other than city employees actually live this fantasy life.
Well if we want to go "Big Picture" on this....we need to bring health care costs under control----body slam the insurance industry, decimate the obscene practices of Big Pharma and their nefarious practices such as seeding studies designed merely to habituate and engage MD's, creating bogus "new" drugs like Boniva, hiding unfavorable studies, etc.. Those types of measures, as well as providing Universal Coverage for all via Single Payer, would remove the main cost of the increase so bemoaned and used for effect. Instead there is a chance we'll be soon seeing some big strikes in local hospitals for the very same reason---over rising and out of control healthcare costs.
And, going Big Picture again, the measures advocated here.
...would easily help to re-establish infrastructure and help to restore some equity into our society. True these are mostly national based actions, but the benefits could easily be passed on.
That is why the most humorous aspect of the "Grand Jury Report" cited above is where they claim that all has been done, every cupboard had been looked at and all is bare. What a joke.
To the barricades!
Let the flag of liberty (from costs that are choking the city)be raised, and the voice of citizens (that care about or city's future) be heard.
Go get them!!
Are employees currently under a contract? If so, this one-day strike is illegal, and grounds for termination. Cool.
Cleaning up local creeks? Uh, we did that on Saturday, for Coastal Cleanup Day. Probably not much left to clean up.
Seems to me that the past activities of the SEIU are catching up with them. Over and over during their labor negotiations they have pushed for (and unfortunately gotten) higher and higher salaries and benefits for their members, with no relationship to their quality of work. Good for them, I guess that's what they should be doing. Unfortunately our past management, "may-he-rest-in-his-retirement-benefits Benest" gave away the shop continuously. Now we have a city manager who actually is a manager and the excesses of SEIU-past are being exposed.
ENOUGH. Let them strike, and replace them with able workers who appreciate what they have and are accountable for their salaries. Why is a city worker like any other worker in this world, anyway.
A one-day SEIU strike saves the City $281,000; sounds good to me. Why not change the City schedule back to 8-5, Monday thru Friday like every other employer in the area, then furlough non-emergency personnel every other Friday (which they have trained Palo Alto citizens to tolerate) and save 26 times $281,000 or $7.3 million annually.
The most important compensation changes must be in the formulas for City employee retirement pay and retirement health benefits, emergency and non-emergency personnel alike, union and non-union alike. Our City cannot afford to keep paying exorbitant retirement benefits. In this worst recession since the Depression, the community is solidly behind you, Mr. City Manager, now is the time to make a stand.
Moreover, come November 3, I will vote for any Council candidate who stands up to the unions and requires a roll-back of retirement benefit formulas that will save the City at least $4 million annually. I will NOT vote for any Council candidate who accepts any union endorsement, funds and/or volunteer help during this election.
Anybody know which Council candidates are cozying up to the unions? Huge conflict of interest.
First, I want to say that I value our city workers. I do a lot of volunteer work with the city and regularly see their dedication and professionalism.
That said, I think the benefits package needs to be brought more in line with the market. NOONE is getting packages like this any more. I hope the union will get more realistic about what is affordable to the city. My own family's salary and benefits were cut 10% this year. My sister lost her job and is still unemployed. My brother just got a new job at a 40% pay cut after being laid off from his last job. He is grateful to be working. Most of my friends are experiencing simllar cuts.
People who pay taxes to support union wages and benefits are experiencing major cuts. I'm not sure why the union believes it should be immune to the effects of market factors that are affecting the rest of us. I also think that city management should take cuts similar to what they are requesting from their subordinates.
I hope we can work together to find a fair solution that works for city workers and our city budget.
It's about time that SEIU workers (or is that an oxymoron?) realize that most of us do NOT sympathize with them. The golden days for city workers, GM workers, etc are over. It is time that we all face the realities of the new economy -- and that means no one gets 100 percent health coverage reimbursement nor a golden pension upon retirement. Did they choose Thursday to strike so they can enjoy a nice long weekend? Unions were once necessary, now they reward and sustain mediocrity, not meritocracy.
Interesting talk about taking cuts. The SEIU group has not had a cost of living increase in two years as I recall. And will give up two more years. At current inflation rates, the union group is willing to give up more than 10% cuts. And they are offering furloughs. And offering to give up the educational reimbursement. They are offering cuts that add up to real money, real cuts in salary and benefits.
Is Keene aware of these efforts in the past? Hello? And where is your anger at the other groups, like Fire, Police and Management?
As a hard worker I am saddened by the negative comments here. I think you all should stop using City services that are not essential, like parks, libraries, the Art Center etc. so you can really show how you feel about us workers. Or better yet, come on in and tell us to our hard working faces. Really, show yourselves! We do every day.
California’s Unemployment Rate Increases To 12.2 Percent: Web Link
Why does Palo Alto City workers NEED A UNION in the first place?
Unions were created during the sweat-shop era when workers had no "rights," inequality, non-representation, exposure to sweat shop conditions, etc.
Today, things are much different. Cities do not support the circumstances of a sweat-shop environment for their employees. Conversely, City and Government employees typically are over compensated, guaranteed pay and pensions, holidays, at an exponental rate historically. While providing less service, less attention and slower services. I do not believe our fine city needs a Labor Union for it's employees. Public servants are not servants, they are well compensated and now they claim they are maltreated slaves. Let them strike and remove the union - if that's possible. I am certain in this day and age, there would be plenty of people who would step up and take their jobs without any pension benefits whatsoever, nor make any of the demands which makes them feel entitled to strike against their employer, the City. I would like to see them all replaced by willing workers. We are a far cry from sweat-shop days. We don't need a union for government employees, particularly city employees.
If the workers drain the city funds they continually point to, rates for utilities will increase, taxes etc. and in another year, they will still be expecting greater salaries and services for their ever diminishing services they provide to our city.
If the City workers believe they have it so bad, let them go find another job. In our current economic state, in our city, in our state, there are many highly educated qualified unemployed and underemployed people in the private sector who are not guaranteed anything from their employers - not even that their job will last another month or week. Let the City workers go find a private sector job that provides anything comparable to what they have. Our city does not need a Union to protect it's employees from becoming sweat shop public servants.
Bruce, I don't know what council candidates are cozying up to the SEIU, but Ira Ruskin running for the Legislature sure is. He's in all the pictures shoulder to shoulder with them.
Repeating this as it was ignored by last few posters: City of Palo Alto Union workers already forgoed last two years COST OF LIVING increases for 7% savings and are willing to do this again for another 7% totalling 14%. No raise in pay, but cut in pay to help economic realities in the City and beyond. 14%. No pay increase, no way to keep salaries in line with the cost of living.
What about this is unclear?
I know exactly why we need unions.
We need unions so the mediocre worker can have a lifetime job.
SEIU should go on strike. Take Thursday off, and don't bother coming back.
The entitlement is quite striking to behold. Let them go to greener pastures since they have it so hard. At 12% statewide unemployment, we'll replace them easily, for much less than the $117K/year they earn in salary and benefits.
If we get less services as a result... we'll hire them back. But I'm not holding my breath.
I agree completely with Bruce's statement: "The most important compensation changes must be in the formulas for City employee retirement pay and retirement health benefits, emergency and non-emergency personnel alike, union and non-union alike. Our City cannot afford to keep paying exorbitant retirement benefits. In this worst recession since the Depression, the community is solidly behind you, Mr. City Manager, now is the time to make a stand."
And I will add one comment of my own: NOONE should be able to retire at 55 with full benefits!
Without the union, witch hunts like the Pat Briggs case would be the norm, not the exception.
Having said that, yes there are mediocre workers at the City, but their continued employment is due to management, not the union.
First off, it takes talent to recognize talent, and these people get in the door because management doesn't recognize them at hire time. Furthermore, each new hire is under a 6 month probation, and they can be let go at any time during the probation with no recourse. Once again management continually fails to weed out the losers.
All the arguments against a union for Palo Alto workers are predicated on competent and rational management. When you don't have that, you need all the help you can get.
I've read a lot above about how everyone's got to tighten their belt in this recession we're in (despite Mr. Bernanke's recent remarks). Trouble is, the recession will end, but the revamped contracts won't. They'll become the new paradigm.
Yes bitterblogger this is "Disaster Capitalism" once again. Like one-way valves take advantage of every crisis, disaster, recession, etc., to further increase the already obscene gap in "our" country between the wealthy and working/poor people.
Naomi Klein describe this in her book.
From the review...
"At the most chaotic juncture in Iraq'' civil war, a new law is unveiled that will allow Shell and BP to claim the country's vast oil reserves… Immediately following September 11, the Bush Administration quietly outsources the running of the 'War on Terror' to Halliburton and Blackwater… After a tsunami wipes out the coasts of Southeast Asia, the pristine beaches are auctioned off to tourist resorts… New Orleans residents, scattered from Hurricane Katrina, discover that their public housing, hospitals and schools will never be re-opened." Klein not only kicks butt, she names names, notably economist Milton Friedman and his radical Chicago School of the 1950s and 60s which she notes "produced many of the leading neo-conservative and neo-liberal thinkers whose influence is still profound in Washington today." Stand up and take a bow, Donald Rumsfeld.
Now will we see another chapter added? "How wealthy Palo Alto leveraged the recession in order to further widen the gap between the super-wealthy and working people in the USA".
Like lazy vultures seeing what they think is a carcass some opportunistic politicians and local right-wing ideologues view the current recession as a another wedge opportunity to further drive working people down. It will be exposed if it proceeds. SEIU, despite it's problems, is a large and effective giant when awoken.
I knew a guy once who lived near the Pacific Coast years ago. He related a story of how one day he saw an Elephant Seal's corpse laying on the beach. He thought he would at least go and try to get the tusk. He laughed as he told how he went and pulled on it, machete in tow, when suddenly the Elephant Seal awoke and gave him a bit of a chase.
A Noun Ea Mus,
Elephant seals don't have tusks. They get their name from their long noses. Not sure what your friend was going to cut off.
I am through trying to rationalize with people here. Yes, that means you, the people who sit in their safe rooms and sit on the computer and turn on the hate monger switch and decide screw it, lets just cut all the city workers benifits because its better than yours. I know that this forum does not represent the entire city of palo alto, so I wont make that generalization to the entire city, but for those of you who are jealous, heartless, or just plain stupid good luck. If you had your way all current city workers would be homeless. I would like to see you people go out and finish cement, go replace entire power poles, dig ditches in the summer heat, stay up all night ready to respond to any sort of emergency. Do it for minimum wage, since you all seem to love that idea. City workers are out there everyday so residents have running water, electricity, heat, sewer, but lets all just stuff our fat faces with some twinkies and tell everyone on the internet that the city sucks. That is all. Im done. Goodnight and I hope your lights go out for weeks because of the strike.
Anonymous heard the word "elephant" and automatically accepted tusks. He hears the word "union" and automatically accepts sweatshops and put-upon workers.
Just as with his imaginary tusks, there is no sweatshop or put-upon worker in Palo Alto. Just a union striking for the right to retire at 55 on full medical benefits and $100,000 inflation protected pension.
To those with anti-union attitudes trashing all City employees:
Are you supportive of our public school teachers? Ever donate to Partners In Education or vote for a school bond? Those actions support our schools and our teachers.
Did you vote for the Library bond?
Ever have an electric, gas, or water outage or sewer backup that was repaired by City employees?
Have you ever worked for a company that offered stock as part of your compensation? Did you ever get a paid maternity leave? Those benefits are not available to Palo Alto City employees.
Our salaries are below the average for comparison cities and far below industry average for many positions. Many of us agreed to lower salaries in exchange for paid medical coverage. Over 50 employees just retired to lock in paid medical benefits for their retirement.
I dug ditches over a summer, I have been a janitor, I have mixed cement, I have worked in a mill; I have had my share of "dirty" jobs. I have no idea how I would shape cement to form a curb, put a telephone pole in, turn on the water, fix the sewer. As our public works becomes more technically demanding its understandable that some jobs have changed adding more needed skills, hours of training, certifications and even degrees. To help me further understand and bring this discussion to the open it would be nice to see a list of the city's employees titles, job descriptions, pay, benefits, pension/retirement, etc.
Can anyone point me to this information? This kind of list would be nice, given I feel public servants serve the public and thus residents are the true owner of this government's business. Understand, I respect privacy, but my boss know what I make.
For the Gunn parent above - yes, I've had sewer guys out to my house twice in the last 4 years to clear out my line to the street. They did a nice job. Amazingly, both times we called on Sunday morning and somebody was there within an hour. I also called once to get my water meter turned off; again, the guy was there within an hour. I tell this story to people in other towns and they laugh pretty hard at the "Cadillac service level" we have in Palo Alto. That's not the union's fault, it is management - and illustrates that cuts in this case are primarily just returning to realistic levels.
The city workers for the most part seem nice and do a good job. Thank you. But we are paying more than we can afford or want to or need to pay. That was a mistake made by former city leadership. Unfortunately, that now must change - we see at the state level some of the dire consequences of not attending to economic reality.
City workers may not get paid maternity leave (something I certainly never got), I'm not sure; but that perk is tiny compared to a retirement lifetime of defined benefit pension and fully paid health care. We need to do the math, look at the market, and make the required adjustments.
The person relating the story to me must have meant one of their teeth. I wasn't there, just remember this guy telling the story.
The analogy is that a bunch of the elite whiners here tend to think that they can just fire all the City SEIU workers and they and their union will go quietly into the night...or lie there like a dead seal.
Well it looks like it's coming down to the wire soon. I sincerely hope a strike doesn't occur as this will mean hardship and sacrifice for the city workers. But if it's strike that comes I hope the city management is taught a lesson they won't long forget.
Send the big shots in the Public Works Department who OKed cutting down all the trees on California Avenue out to fill some potholes today. In other words, to do some useful work.
That way they won't have the opportunity to sit in their offices at City Hall and draw up any more plans to decimate the urban forest in Palo Alto.
Anonymous, you're slipping. First you expose your lack of critical thinking (tusks on elephant seals, huh?) then dig deeper (he must have meant he was going to use a machete to remove a tooth, really?) and now you "hope the city management is taught a lesson they won't long forget."
Offering blind faith to SEIU is really not a good idea when you lack critical thought. Try doing the math "SEIU said they expect the move to save the city about $281,000.". That works out as an *average* SEIU pension of $100,650 and it's inflation protected!
Well now the Headline has changed...
"'Furlough day' or 'illegal strike' starts peacefully"
As if the expectation (hope) is that this one day (whatever) would get out of hand, turn violent.
Interesting spin...I can hear the "dum dum dum dum" from the movie Jaws playing in the background.
Why not headlines such as "Mayor Goes Another Day Without Beating His Wife"
Anonymous, yet again you show no idea of what is happening. They are picketing today. Wouldn't you call that a strike as well?
Take a look at the last post on the other thread:
By "Unfortunately a SEIU member, a resident of another community, 54 minutes ago"
So, how do you think we feel? We were told by our union that today is a strike, but they (SEIU) told the media & the city it was a furlough day when there is no such thing at the city.
The picketing in the utility yard that is visable from 101 has hosed the freeway all the way to San Jose. Way to go Palo Alto!
Well if you are going to banter the term "critical thinking" around you should yourself have an inkling what it means.
It has nothing to do with an anatomical mistake as regards elephant seal dentition. I distinctly recall a person describing an experience from years back and the analogy fit. Your picking the nit over this is actually far more revealing.
I don't have blind faith in SEIU, or any organization (etc.) for that matter.
I am not aware of how SEIU came up with the projected cost savings based on today's activities. Would not any such saving, no matter how you calculate it, be based on the wages not paid today? What would the pension have to do with it?
"Offering blind faith to SEIU is really not a good idea when you lack critical thought. Try doing the math "SEIU said they expect the move to save the city about $281,000.". That works out as an *average* SEIU pension of $100,650 and it's inflation protected!"
No blind faith.
It's laughable that you find critical thought involved. If someone sees a cow and describes some attribute with the wrong term would that then show some deficiency in "critical thinking"? Don't be udderly ridiculous.
Did you mean annual wages/benefits of $100,650? Or a really that a pension would be affected by this one day event?
Now think critically about it please.
A Noun: cow - udderly, good one.
Well, 1015 am and they're already gone from in front of city hall.
"They are picketing today. Wouldn't you call that a strike as well?"
Picketing by itself does not a strike make.
SEIU is eager to characterize it as a voluntary furlough.
The City and others are eager to characterize it as a strike.
It is what it is, a rose by any other name....
My semantic choice, for what it's worth,...
more than a furlough, less than a strike. "Furlike" or "Strilough"
The dance continues. We'll see what tomorrow and next week brings. Negotiations, last I heard, haven't been called off.
I have friends that work in different departments of the city. This is the last group (and largest) under negotiations. They're also the only ones that were being asked to take serious pay cuts, reduction in benefits and extention of both age and years till eligible for retirement. Yes, they get good benefits (but not as good as some private industry)but why are some divisions negotiated separately? Better, stronger unions and we (the voters) are willing and ask for it. Give them the same changes that were offerred to police and fire. After all, they keep our city running just as much as police and fire...I don't want my sewers not fixed, my libraries without seismic retrofits, or any of the other multitude of conveniences that are provided by the city workers.
That said...has the city considered the benefits of not decreasing any pay or benefits and converting to a 4/40 work week? It might help to close that budget gap they've gotten themselves into. Regular 3 day weekends might boost morale too.
I hope everybody keeps talking.
"I am not aware of how SEIU came up with the projected cost savings based on today's activities. Would not any such saving, no matter how you calculate it, be based on the wages not paid today? What would the pension have to do with it?"
OMG, not only do you lack critical thought but you can't even do basic math?!
$281,000 for 617 SEIU workers for one day. Now work out how much that is per year to get the average SEIU salary. Finally use the current formula to calculate the available pension on that salary!
That's right, based on SEIU's own numbers, the *average* pension for SEIU workers is over $100k!
"It's laughable that you find critical thought involved. If someone sees a cow and describes some attribute with the wrong term would that then show some deficiency in "critical thinking"? Don't be udderly ridiculous."
When someone accepts a tale at face value when it is utterly impossible (tusk) or at best improbable (tooth removal via machete) then, yeah, I'd say they lacked critical thought.
Oh and you only have to click ONCE!
I think it's tough to work in Palo Alto. A lot of residents treat our City workers like indentured servants. Look at what one poster was whining about, the inconvenience to HER and having to take her kids to the Mtn. View City Library. It's ONE DAY people. Why don't YOU read to your kids? The people striking have larger concerns than serving you at the moment, working out a contract that is beneficial to both themselves and the City. It is one of our freedoms that we have the right to protest. Let them do their thing and hopefully it will all work out.
"more than a furlough, less than a strike. "Furlike" or "Strilough"
Moose gives me a headache.
I take my kids to the library for story time because they love being in a big group with other little ones. And duh! I read to them at home too. We just finished Editha's Burglar. I'm not being inconvenienced by what's happening. I'm saddened by it. Maybe YOU should read more thoroughly.
sounds like a wildcat strike to me. Maybe the City should consider contracting out some city services
we don't need unions to fix sewers. our workers are grossly overpaid. Moreover, we are in a major recession with 11%+ of the bay area out of work. not being able to retire at 55 with pay and 100% benefits for the next 30+ years of your life (for having been over paid up to age 55) is a small price to pay. How about the city employees are paid a market wage and can be fired if they are incompetent?
Earlier this morning, there was a small gaggle of union picketers at Newell and Embarcadero on both sides of the road. Occasional honking of supporters driving by. This really seems pointless to me.
The SEIU statement: "that their action is a "self-imposed furlough" designed to save the city money" is disingenuous and casts an incredible light on SEIU's veracity. Better that the SEIU candidly admit that the action is a one-day strike rather than claim the strike is helping the city by saving money. Give me a break!
Midtownres: Yes, the SEIU clearly thinks we are idiots and chumps. Is a little honesty too much to ask? Call a spade a spade, this is a strike, not a "self imposed one day furlough".
In fairness, the city should not fire them all, but call it a "non-self imposed persistent alternative employment opportunity".
Another hard worker: didn't a 3% raise for all SEIU workers go into effect on July 1, 2008? (see page 14 of the MOU) What part of that don't YOU understand? The SEIU workers have gotten negotiated raises the last two years. The friendly, loving furlough is not - some people have already felt intimidated. Can anyone report on this big city cleanup? Is it happening, or are the "strikers" just carrying small brooms as they march?
Go back to 5-day work weeks; cut down on overtime scheduled for Fridays off; impose real furloughs; change the benefits package for newly-hired employees; skim the fat!
Actually their strike cost a lot of money, the back on the freeway was back to Milpitas because of whatever they were doing at the corporate yard.
Not impressed by the gas they wasted.
> I assume using simple math that the average union employee
> makes $117,899.30 per year.
This number is close to the "total cost to employ" number--meaning the sum of the take home, and all of the benefits. It would be nice if this number also included the "management and operational overhead" to support each worker, but it probably doesn't. If all of those costs could be accurately estimated, it would push the "total cost to employ" number up much higher.
Why not just keep the 40% that showed up and get rid of the 60% that didn't. They're probably worthless anyway. And, it's not illegal to fire union workers. You just violate a contract and there are consequences. But long term I think the consequences are worth it.
violate what contract? It expired on June 30, 2009
how much money did the picketers cost all people that where made late for work?
I wonder how much they spent on printing all their signs and those nice new t-shirts?
Fire them all
The city should hold the line and bring costs under control. If the union can't play a reasonable role and calls a strike, then start replacing the workers.
Did we really get a 3% raise this year? I will check it out on the page of the MOU you mentioned.
I don't know if I didn't notice because my wages are so high, or my take home so low ;D
Does that lessen in any way our offering to take no COLA for the next two years? Do you know what COLA is and means to working families?
Also, did you read the article? 90 people were made to work who might have walked today, bringing the number of supporters to over 60%. I think it is higher, but won't know until tomorrow. It certainly isn't lower than that.
Oh yes, JL, fire them all. Do you live in an area without services that you can say that? Maybe Mars?
Amazing how most of these posters, myself included, just say the same things over and over again. I think there is all of 20 of us posting here, and some say that the proof that Palo Alto doesn't support their City staff is in the numbers complaining here. No numbers, just loud mouths.
I for one will not contribute any longer. Let some other worker take my place. I have had it with all of you entitled Palo Altans on this blog. And bless the few willing to speak out for what services we do provide. See you at work!
Pull a Ronald Reagan (ala air traffic controllers). Fire them all.
Most city workers do not make over 100k. In fact they make alot less. Despite what most of the people on this site think, they work hard. That is why Palo Alto is a beatuiful community, I'm proud to be a part of. You must feel the same or you wouldn't live here. How much does the City Mgr that so many are praising make?? Or the Managers and Supervisors that sit around and delegate to the worthless, spoiled workers most on this site are speaking of. If the fat needs cut it should start at the top.
A number of people have made the claims you make.
How do you personally know that PA workers 'work hard'? Why do you think that is what makes PA a 'beautiful community'?
Do you think that most non-union workers in most walks of life 'work hard'? What is 'working class'? Are white collar workers somehow not working class and therefor 'not really working'?
Compensation is or should be measured by 'total compensation' which is the total of salary, bonuses and benefits including retirement contributions and obligations. Do you think union city workers should have total compensation equal to or greater than equivalent private sector jobs?
I'm completely and utterly shocked that many of you feel that firing these workers is the answer. Regardless of how you feel about the union, these are people with families. You all wouldn't feel so great if others just thought that firing you would be the easiest thing to do. I do recognize that these are hard econimic times and the workers will need to make concessions, but the city will need to do the same.
These are my opinions and how I feel. I feel they work hard, because I see them work and have interacted with some of the Parks workers and the Street Sweeper workers. Apparantely you don't feel the same. Perhaps you can relate more to the Managers/Supervisors and feel that their exuberant salaries are justified.
"Regardless of how you feel about the union, these are people with families."
These are people with families...who are on strike trying to preserve compensation levels that the city cannot afford. Perhaps the strikers should realize that the money they want will come from taxpayers who also have families, whose compensation likely has taken a hit during the hard economic times, and who are worried about retirement - not at 55 like you union members, but at 65 - because their retirement funds have taken a hit.
Instead of being grateful you have a secure job in these tough times, you're disdainfully walking away and hoping the city can't cope, that Keene will buckle, and that you can continue milking the city and the taxpayers for everything you can.
And you wonder why so many residents think the best outcome is that you be fired so that other workers - who have families - and who might understand just how valuable the jobs you are spitting on are, could take them instead?? Give us all a break!
Its funny, alot of the people here seem to think if the workers, benifits and pay is cut, they wont have to pay the same taxes with normal increases every year. Thats right, everyones rebate check is just waiting on the mass firing of city workers.
Mike (or is it Marie?)
Perhaps your standard for 'hard work' is not correct. Perhaps you think that normal work is hard work. I have been in Palo Alto for 25 years and have not seen many examples of hard work. Maybe this is exactly like grade inflation where 'B' work has come to be awarded 'A's.
Hard work delivered somewhat consistently by city workers would result in high productivity (units of completed work/worker) for each dollar of compensation. Here in Palo Alto we seem to have vastly more headcount and payroll per citizen than any of the surrounding communities. That would seem to indicate at the very least that our productivity is average.
Maybe we need to have a tea party in Palo Alto . . . people are mad about having to pay more and more and more in taxes (and this is before the big pension fund bailouts that are inevitable in the coming decades). Who speaks for the taxpayers? Nobody. Maybe we need to speak up for ourselves!
Yes I think it would be totally appropriate for the anti-city workers to host a little Tea Bagger Party. Open wide.
Well .. it's about close of business for the City of Palo Alto government (5:30 PM). Did the world end because these SIEU workers didn't show up for their jobs today?
.. naw .. didn't think so ..
Clearly there are too many city employees,
60% reduction in the workforce today and no down side.
This one day strike will backfire big time.
SEIU of course has bigger problems as their ACORN relationships are explored and even left wing pols are distancing themselves.
How do you know there was no down side?
Why cant they make some sacrifices? like all the rest of us citizens in the privet sector.
If they don't like having pay cuts they can quit, and find work some place else
It easy enough to say that their strike had no impact but I think that the people saying they don't need their services will be the first ones calling if a big disaster ever hits. Everyone seems to forget that after they see to their own families these workers must report back to the city to help out. Last time I checked my company isn't going to require me to come in. I may not get the same benefits but neither do I have the same obligation.
> Why cant they make some sacrifices?
Unions are not about making "sacrifices" .. they are about increasing their memberships, increasing the salaries and benefits of their members, and increasing their power, relative to the companies/entities for which they provide labor. There simply is no room for "sacrifice" in their world view. Even during WWII, when the world was at the brink of destruction for the better part of five years--US labor unions struck over 11,000 times--while American GIs were fighting and dying .. these union people were stopping production in order to demand higher wages. Even then, "sacrifice" was not high on their list of priorities.
We love our City employees. Union management, not so much.
Union management must be channeling Teamsters of old. Same dumb brute force tactics which turn off most of Palo Alto's rank and file. Lying, cheating, and stealing; union management has done it all here just within the past 3 weeks.
[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
"Why cant they make some sacrifices?"
SEIU has offered to give up raises, holidays, take furloughs, create a new lower pay scale for new hires, give up the tuition assistance program, and more!
Here are what our actual raises were for the past three years:0%, 2.5%, and 3%. We've asked for no raises for the next 2 years. That would be a whopping 5.5% over 5 years. Way behind any cost of living increases.
"Go back to 5-day work weeks; cut down on overtime scheduled for Fridays off; impose real furloughs; change the benefits package for newly-hired employees; skim the fat!"
I've never worked OT on my Friday off. The 9/80 schedule cuts down OT costs and give residents one more hour of service every day. I take that back, one Thursday I went to work at the usual 6:30am and due to a electrical fire in a vault I worked 36 hrs straight. That technically put me on OT on my Friday off.
California unemployment rate is 12.1% but it's 6.1% in Palo Alto.
"Well .. it's about close of business for the City of Palo Alto government (5:30 PM). Did the world end because these SIEU workers didn't show up for their jobs today?
.. naw .. didn't think so .."
I'm curious, which City service did you try to use today?
Personally, I don't expect to make enough money to live in Palo Alto. A few of my co-workers have used this as a talking point.
When the head of ASD sits down at the negotiating table and states "we want to be completely transparent about City finances, this time, because in the past we, um, well we want to be upfront this time." How can we trust what we are being told?
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
1.Palo Alto City employee's wages (wages only) are and always have been BELOW the median for the 10 surrounding cities that we are compared with. And yet Palo Alto is one of the wealthiest. I AM NOT suggesting that since Palo Alto has money they should give it to their employees. But the City should pay fair wages. Is below median fair? We have traded salary for benefits=so we accept low wages.
2.City of Palo Alto Employees may retire at 55 with 2.7%. But that doesn't mean they all can. Many need to work until 60 or 65. At 65 medicare kicks in and the City becomes the secondary insurance and their premiums reduce almost in half. So we get the same medicare that everyone else gets.
At the negotiating table employees have suggested concessions to our compensation package. They were rejected by the City Negotiator. We have suggested "cost sharing" ideas (City term) in the amount of $7 million dollars and they have rejected them all. We are asking for nothing...$0 increase $0 got it!!And we are offering to give up over $1 mill in consessions. City rejects-so who's the greedy ones?
The City has 70 frozen positions that can be eliminated or reorganized around. BTW just because we have frozen positions, doesnt' mean the City isn't hiring. The City hires around 10 people a month. Those volunteering to fill in after firing all the City workers - have you applied yet???Thought not. tbc......
Fire them. Find people that want to work.
they keep this up they might just go ahead with contract workers. etc..
They are just too overpaid, they will need to watch-out cause there could be layoffs...
By my calculation based on information released by the union, the average city employee makes about $100K/yr. ($455/day * 220). That level of pay combined with the ability to retire at 55 with almost full pay + medical is obscene in today's economy. The city is only asking for new employee's pay/benefits to be lowered to more reasonable levels. The city has to get this pay/benefits under control or this city is going to increasingly have budget problems that will strain city finances for years to come. Time to get our house in order for our childrens sake.
Lineman says: "Personally, I don't expect to make enough money to live in Palo Alto. A few of my co-workers have used this as a talking point."
And in his other post he says: "I won't feel at all guilty retiring at 60 with 62% of my second highest year(excluding overtime)."
The cry from SEIU workers really is: "OH NO, I can't live in Palo Alto on my inflation protected pension after working for 20 YEARS! Give us more money!!!"
Are you for real? You complain that your pension after 20 years isn't enough to retire for the rest of your life. Even worse, it is enough to retire elsewhere but you're all sooo grumpy that you can't do that in Palo Alto with the current agreement? WHAT?!!!
Hilarious. This is not a strike, yet they had picket lines?
Talk about tin-ear. Bunch of idiots.
Palo Alto elitism strikes again in so many of these comments.
How many on this forum are educated about what the SEIU wants? Of course most city workers don't make 117k per year.
Some of you are treating some city workers as if they are laborers,but they are trained professionals who keep your utilities and services up and running.If you want to compare something compare the fact that neighboring cities are getting raises,compare the reponse time when you call us from our families or beds in the middle of the night,and how soon your services are back on compared to other utilities[I know you've heard stories of days to weeks outages.]How can you not pay someone you consider an "essential employee.The lack of expertise could result in imminent threat to public health,safety and welfare."Do the right thing."
Employees currently face city "threats of layoffs"?...while the city managemnet writhes in their inability to reorganize around 50+ retirements and 70 frozen funded positions. How much money would that save?
City employees anticipate no raises, no colas, no realignments and cuts...I’m lucky there’s just two of us at home…And the city only wants 2.5 months rent from me! At my apartment we could “tighten our belts” and give up: 12 months of car payments. OR groceries for 5 months. OR 5X my phone bill a month (per month). OR 2– 3 credit card payments (per month). OR what I now pay for my daughters braces every three months ..only every month!,
For my coworker just to work here,it costs him to work here, he pays
300 for gas and lunch per month minimum
A significant amount of which he spends in Palo Alto
…So he could give up that.
Palo Alto has no deficit...and outside of general fund reserves...
1. 225,000 could be saved by changing phone carriers (per auditor).
2. 4.5 Million per year could be saved in onging cost if the city reorganized. (50+ rretirements, and 70 positions on the books that are budget funded - but not filled).
3. The city has carried 22 million in unrestricted funds in IT, Vehicle Maintenance and Health and Benefits for the past 5 + years.
...Thats 22 million a year outside of the general fund reserves every year. Even the city after claiming the funds were "earmarked" was quoted as saying at least 4.9 Million was not.
WE have families.
WE have parents and kids that depend on us.
WE are dedicated to the the City of Palo Alto and appreciate our jobs.
Reality: Palo Alto cannot keep linemen and is always hiring BECAUSE Palo Alto does not pay linemen enough...if this employee "Lineman" is still working for the city - the city is getting a good deal. Linemen have now left because of the city's proposals. Let's all hope that there are no big storms this winter or errant birds.
Everyone has to face economic realities.
The unions destroyed GM and other US auto companies by their unrealistic claims--- 100,000s of jobs are gone as a result.
The fact is that union officials have the union interests at heart and their own political ambitions--- not the workers.
The ongoing investigation about the close relationship between SEIU and ACORN will destroy the current organization and leadership of SEIU as it has destroyed the corrupt ACORN
CPA workers need to fire SEIU.
are you for real:
This has to be the worst post ever. It makes no sense at all.
"Lineman says: "Personally, I don't expect to make enough money to live in Palo Alto. A few of my co-workers have used this as a talking point." "
Thanks for quoting me.
"And in his other post he says: "I won't feel at all guilty retiring at 60 with 62% of my second highest year(excluding overtime).""
What does that have to do with the subject here? The context of that line came from a post about how linemen rarely last to age 60. Too many are injured on the job and can't work anymore.
"The cry from SEIU workers really is: "OH NO, I can't live in Palo Alto on my inflation protected pension after working for 20 YEARS! Give us more money!!!"
I've never read a post anywhere near this, except from another resident twisting facts.
"Are you for real? You complain that your pension after 20 years isn't enough to retire for the rest of your life. Even worse, it is enough to retire elsewhere but you're all sooo grumpy that you can't do that in Palo Alto with the current agreement? WHAT?!!! "
I didn't complain. I stated that I DON'T expect to live in Palo Alto.
City Worker/Resident says SEIU members have families. He says they have parents and children that depend on them.
Guess what? So do all the taxpayers in Palo Alto. And every dollar the city spends on SEIU members in salary, pensions or benefits comes right out of the pockets of Palo Alto taxpayers - and out of the mouths of their children, families and parents.
All this nonsense about non-restricted funds, telephone carriers and reorganization are - even if true - beside the point. These extra funds and budget savings belong to the citizens of Palo ALto. If we use them to pay lavish SEIU pensions and benefits, they will not be there to fund city services (including Vehicle Maintenance.) Either the city will go without services, or we'll have to pay taxes - removing food from the mouths of our children - to make up the difference.
I'm sure City Worker/Resident is dedicated and appreciates his job - as do most SEIU workers. Even admitting the truth of that assertion ....YOU'RE STILL COSTING WAY TOO MUCH.
All the words spilled about whether workers work hard or the city has the money is just bluster. The question is whether other competent people will do the work for less. With 12% unemployment in the state, that seems likely (does not matter what unemployment is in Palo Alto, since many/most city works come from out of town, right?).
So the cost of the city workforce (salary plus benefit) is going to fall. There will likely be job cuts as well, which appears to make sense given staffing levels. The question is how much acrimony and drama we have before getting there. And how far the city is willing to go to get the right size of work force.
For me, I hope they push on and hard. We grew like topsy without regard to cost. We need to re-set. Too bad for union workers? Not sure why - they had a good ride, not dissimilar to the folks on Wall Street. Now the music has stopped and it is time to find something else.
PA resident would garner more sympathy about crying poor mouth if they weren't so wealthy. As faulty as the SEIU may be, these posts demonstrate the residents want Nordstrom customer service at Target prices. Get real!
We will take WalMart standards for quality and price for City employees,
CPA are well below those standards.
Sharon, really, be honest. I interact w/City of PA workers at work and they're fine. When I was a resident, never had a problem w/them. I found them responsive, polite, anticipatory, informed and easy to deal with. It's really, really pathetic that a city with so many well off residents are so cheap about compensation. I know we're all economizing, but the glory all seems to go to the cops, who aren't all that great, and you all are so crappy to the other employees.
Reasonable summary of the current situation. Both sides should read it: Web Link
Eye for an eye FIRE Ginger,JL,Gfl,and everyone that think city workers should be fired and see how you feel.
Mike,resident of cresent park I have been with the city 17yrs.lots of hard work exist everyday.I've had two knee operations,soar shoulders from 17yrs. of hard physical work.Are you a field worker because if you ever done safty sensative work you know there are procedures that can't go in front of others or it could cause catastrophic damage to person or property.That's why sometimes it looks like we're doing nothing but by the time the job is done,some hard work has taken place.
we should not blame city workers for having a union etc. they do their part in making sure they get the best benefits possible. if taxpayers do not want to keep on paying the benefits, then the tax payers need a union of their own and strike to demand a lowering a benefits. In summary, we should not blame city employee for taking as much as they can from the pie, they are as greedy as most of us are.
This is going on up and down the peninsular, Meno Park Web Link, Burlingame Web Link, Peninsular Task Force Web Link. Everyone is feeling the the crunch.
"City employees, in departments such as police, fire, public works, and parks and recreation, typically earn better wages than private-sector workers and are less likely to be laid off."
What is SEIU really expecting?
"We will take WalMart standards for quality and price for City employees,"
Who agrees with Sharon here?
This community doesn't want a Walmart or other box store in it, but they are ok with Walmart quality workers?
Let's hire the cheapest labor possible. I for one don't care if the 911 operator doesn't understand a word I'm saying as long as they get my address right.
I agree with Sharon!
Our employees should be valued, not belittled. I think there are more of us who support our City employees than those that don't. Maybe SEIU employees should pay a little more for their benefits, but they shouldn't be bashed for fighting to keep what they have. I know I wouldn't just take it lying down.
This discussion boils down to two different points of view. SEIU view is "We are Palo Alto" and I guess this means we should be happy that they let the rest of us live in their city. Or Palo Alto belongs to the citizens of Palo Alto and SEIU works for us. If this is true then the money belongs to use to pay out as we, thru the city government, see fit.
I think you're missing the point.
The "We are Palo Alto" stance is not that it's "Them" vs "Us", it's that they are part of what makes our community great in addition to everything else that makes Palo Alto great.
If you were being sarcastic, then I feel that your "boiled down" version of how you see things is overly myopic.
If that was the intention, it isn't how it came across.
Most PA Workers earn less than $73,000 a year gross, not net take home pay - gross.. Most do not own a home so they do not have a home tax deduction or the ability to refinance to pick up car and other loans.
QUESTION...In the private sector, don't private sector workers have to additionally be paid????:
- Social Security
- Unemployment insurance
So what is all this stuff about employees getting more?
When I took this job I knew I would be paid less than market value BECAUSE of my benefits...and I stayed with less pay than private sector FOR the benefits and not having to move with my job. I even accepted a total package from Palo Alto, of pay and benefits, that is less than other bay area comparison cities.
This is not a matter of "taking money" - - - the city HAS money.
The city started out asking 1.2 milion from SEIUand within weeks was asking over 4 million from SEIU employees - the lowest paid employees in the city.
To Council, Pull back your dogs and look to see what kind of community this type of hate and blame has inspired. It is damaging to us all.
"This is not a matter of "taking money" - - - the city HAS money."
Provide independent links please. The only links to support this assertion is from SEIU. They promised their SEIU members to provide an "independent" financial analyst but that failed to materialize. Most likely because the analyst found that the city was correct in their audited accounts. Unlike SEIU's claims.
You miss the point. If it had said "We are APART of Palo Alto" I would agree with that. What was used proves to me that the union leadership is arrogant and insulting. They ment what they said and I stand by what I said. The union leaders need an attitude adjustment.
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