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Editorial: More pressure on city wages, benefits

Original post made on Mar 2, 2012

After years of paying higher and higher costs for salary and pension benefits to its public safety employees, Palo Alto finally gained some leverage when voters approved repeal of binding arbitration last November.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, March 2, 2012, 1:31 PM

Comments (7)

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Posted by The Bottom Line
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 2, 2012 at 7:57 pm

The Police Union has and continues to offer the exact concessions the Fire Union gave just months ago and the city refuses.

The Police Union was the only union that voluntarily deferred salary increases in the past 3 years. No other union offered to do anything for the city. SEIU had to have their contract forced on them. Fire gave in only after the threat of arbitration.

The Police officers have lost over a dozen police officer positions in the past decade while the fire fighters haven't lost a single fire fighter position.

The police officers have cooperated with the city during both negotiations and city budget discussions. The fire fighters have sponsered ballot measures and faught all the way.

Even with all that, the city council and the city want the police officers to give up more than any other group in the city and ultimately become the only group that takes a cut in their salary. All the other groups had to pay more for benefits, contribute sizable portions of salary towards retirement, reduce retirement, eliminate some benefits, and pay for medical. The city is demanding the police officers do all that and take a substantial pay cut, something no one else has done.

I guess that whole removal of arbitration was designed so the city council could destroy the police departments good will for decades to come.

On our way to 20 vacancies.........

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Posted by Carl
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 2, 2012 at 8:18 pm

This is exactly why public employees should not be allowed to unionize. FDR and RR understood this. Palo Alto is stewing in its own juices.

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Posted by Lineman for the City
a resident of another community
on Mar 2, 2012 at 9:14 pm

Easy on SEIU bottom line. I was at the table for that negotiation. We offered to give up benefits which equaled the City's proposal in savings. It's great that you offered to give up raises, we haven't been offered one in four years.

You think it's difficult to hire a qualified police officer, try to hire a lineman, substation electrician, or electric system operator. I ran into a PG&E crew and thought I'd do some recruiting. Once we talked about pay and benefits they laughed in my face. So the people who post here and think Palo Alto is some Mecca with lavish pay and benefits need a good dose of reality.

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Posted by The Bottom Line
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 2, 2012 at 10:06 pm

To The Lineman

You are absolutely correct. My comments aren't in any way to suggest others in the city haven't significantly suffered from the actions of the city, they are ony to point out how ubsurd it is that they want more from us than fire.

For many workers across the city, they find their counterparts at PG&E or like fields receiving more compensation. Fact is the city is using the world wide economic crisis to hide their failures over the years and suggest that the city is in financial trouble. We have one of the most financially stable citys in the country, just check all the ratings and look at all the reserves.

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Posted by Fair Deal
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 2, 2012 at 11:00 pm

Based on the statements made by the Police union's attorney, it certainly does not sound like the Police union is asking for anything unreasonable and it seems like they understand the need to take cuts to help the City. If the City's deal with the Fire union was a reduction of x % with respect to their previous contract, then why not offer the Police union the same reduction? Why ask them for x + y %? It seems understandably objectionable (from the Police union standpoint) to be asked to give up more than the Fire union when the Police union has been cooperative with the City. As I recall, they agreed to defer a raise several years ago when the City asked while the Fire union not only withdrew their offer to defer a raise after initially agreeing to, but shortly thereafter also threw Measure R on the ballot. If the Police union is willing to accept the same cuts the Fire union did and the City wants to be "fair," I'm having a hard time seeing where the difficulty lies in these negotiations. Give the Police union similar terms. The City is going to get pension reform, reduced health care costs, and a reduction in wages. It seems like it should be pretty straightforward.

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Posted by To Fair Deal
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 3, 2012 at 10:25 am

To Fair Deal,

Thank you and you make some excellent points, some things we often forget over time.

As much as I know we are being treated differently, I had completely forgotten that fire played that game of offering to defer their raise, got a bunch of public cudos, and then didn't follow through on the offer like police did. The city manager and council need to be reminded of that.

Can you please email the city manager and the council and remind them about the offer to defer, pulling back the offer, and then luanching a ballot measure and then this is how they treat the good guys. Emails are on the website.

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Posted by Sell-The-PAU
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 4, 2012 at 1:11 pm

> it's difficult to hire a qualified police officer, try to hire
> a lineman, substation electrician, or electric system operator

The City needs to divest itself of this operation. There is no reason at all that the City should be in the electricity sales business. It is not an essential function of government. The City should look for a buyer at the earliest opportunity, and use those funds to begin the refurbishment of legitimate infrastructure projects.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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