Town Square

Post a New Topic

Menlo Park may impose terms on union workers

Original post made on Apr 30, 2010

Menlo Park city staff is recommending that the City Council impose the "last, best, and final" office made to Service Employees' International Union, which represents 152 benefited non-management employees with the city of Menlo Park.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, April 30, 2010, 11:55 AM

Comments (24)

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 30, 2010 at 1:54 pm

Well what do you know? Contrary to what Peter Carpenter and numerous others have written, it looks like our city officials may not actually be pawns of the Service Employees Union after all. Elected officials who aren't corrupt - what a concept!
Beyond that, perhaps this shows that representative democracy still works in this country and that our elected officials can actually act in the best interests of the citizens who elected them.
Makes me glad that I never signed that damned initiative petition.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 30, 2010 at 2:05 pm

Steve -

First, I think most of us are happy that the Council finally stood up them. But did you ever think that the petition initiative moved the Council to this position? This ground swell of opinion may have had an impact... but we'll never know for certain, will we?

Besides, the initiative a very good backstop should the current Council lose its spine.

Pun intended.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 30, 2010 at 2:08 pm

By the way, this position is a staff recommendation only.

The Council hasn't accepted it, voted on it, or done anything yet.

You may want to hold up on those accolades for representative democracy for a bit.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 30, 2010 at 3:22 pm

Steve states:"Contrary to what Peter Carpenter and numerous others have written, it looks like our city officials may not actually be pawns of the Service Employees Union after all."

The Council hasn't done a thing so far; it should be a very interesting discussion and vote.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 30, 2010 at 3:34 pm

Peter: Menlo Park is NOT Atherton! You know the town with all the law suits and problem that every gets a good chuckle about.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 30, 2010 at 3:34 pm

Good for the City Council staff.
Public union employees have gotten WAY out of hand.
Their sense of ENTITLEMENT is highly objectionable.
Who is running the City?
The City employees or the City residents who pay taxes?
It is time to send a message to all government workers - we the people are in charge and in control NOT THEM.
This idea what residents need to keep paying more and more in taxes to ensure government workers get their 5% annual increases regardless of what is happening to private sector employees is ABSURD.
Oakland teachers walk out of a negotiating session becuase school board wants to FREEZE not REDUCE teacher salaries.
Menlo Park firefighters withdraw from negotiations becuase fire district refuses to give them an 11% increase in the first year of the contract.
Palo Alto firefighter union rep YELLS at Palo Alto City Council people.
On and on and on!
If any government worker thinks they can find a better job elsewhere, I say GO FOR IT. There will be five poeple at City Hall the next day applying for that job!
Time to put an end to this farce.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Joanna
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 30, 2010 at 3:36 pm

Good points Joe!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 30, 2010 at 3:44 pm

Steve - want to make a bet on how your? Council will vote on this?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 30, 2010 at 5:40 pm

Peter -
Sure, I'd be willing to bet a lunch at Borrone's that my City Council will vote essentially along the lines recommended by their staff. I say essentially because I expect they might make some tweaks to the staff recommendations and don't want to have to buy you lunch on a technicality. Specifically, I expect the Council to:
1) offer no pay increases this year
2) require employees to pay more for health insurance
3) require employees to pay more for pension costs
4) implement a pension plan for new employees that would increase the retirement age from 55 to 60 for non-police municipal workers.
5) change the formula for calculating pension benefits from 2.7 percent of highest annual salary multiplied by years of service to 2 percent of an average of the three highest years, multiplied by years of service.
I assume your betting position is that none of these would be recommended by the Council.
Let me know if you agree to the bet. It will be nice to meet you, regardless of who wins. Though I find I often don't agree with your positions, I admire your arguments and your willingness to focus on facts with a minimum of ideology.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 30, 2010 at 5:44 pm

Steve - you are on for the bet - and I hope that I lose !

Lunch will be fun and if we can celebrate the Menlo Park Council coming to its senses that will be a treat indeed.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by some dude
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 30, 2010 at 6:44 pm


I heard from some people in the know that what council takes away today can be given back tomorrow. In addition, the council can impose their offer only for one year, then it's back to the bargaining table. The conclusion is that the initiative is still stronger than a council action.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Henry Riggs
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Apr 30, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Steve,

Your items 4 and 5 might cost you lunch. Imposing is good for a year, pending the re-opening of negotiations. Meanwhile, council cannot impose the retirement age or formula change until the AFSCME contract expires in 2012. By then we may have one to three new council persons and there will have been some serious lobbying (and legal action) by two or more unions. This is not going to happen unless the voters make it so.

Henry


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Blue Collar Public Worker
a resident of another community
on May 1, 2010 at 9:41 am

Henry, Peter, Steve, that's not what this initiative is about right? The sponsors only want new employees at 2% at 55? Did I miss something?
BCPW


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 1, 2010 at 10:21 am

BCPW asks if he has missed something.

He sure has - because of the lack of wise union leadership offering more sustainable retirement plans what you are seeing is BACKLASH.

Once people finally realize how bad things are and how little union leadership is willing to come up with more sustainable options they will strike back.

You were warned.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Blue Collar Public Worker
a resident of another community
on May 1, 2010 at 10:34 am

Peter
Do not wag your finger at me............. All along the focus has been new members at 2% and all along I have said what I feel is the real motive. And here it is, you agree right that the benefit should change for current workers? You know I had dinner last night with the Director of Public Works in the City I live in. Guess what their not having these problems and they have about the same benefits and twice as many employees. Maybe it's not the benefits/workers maybe it's the poor leadership? I predict this will end up like the Town of Atherton if this continues. The City will end up with allot of legal fees and they will be no better off.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 1, 2010 at 10:50 am

BCPW states:"Do not wag your finger at me..."

If the shoe fits, wear it.

Union leadership in other jurisdictions has wisely worked out more sustainable retirement programs and have conceded many current benefits. Where such wise union leadership does not exist there will be backlash.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Blue Collar Public Worker
a resident of another community
on May 1, 2010 at 1:00 pm

Peter
Quote:
"Union leadership in other jurisdictions has wisely worked out more sustainable retirement programs and have conceded many current benefits. Where such wise union leadership does not exist there will be backlash".
Not here: Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 1, 2010 at 1:31 pm

BCPW - not sure where 'here' is, but 2.7% of final pay for each year worked at age 55 is NOT sustainable.

And the tragedy is that you and other public workers think that such a generous retirement program is both your right and is sustainable.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 1, 2010 at 1:41 pm

I urge everyone to look at the benefit plan schedule which BCPW has posted above. I have never seen anything in the private sector which comes anywhere close to the richness, and cost, of these benefits.
These workers get defined benefit retirement at an extraordinary level, every possible type of leave, medical benefits etc that no private sector worker would ever hope to get.

And it is presented by BCPW as an example of wise union leadership.

Please read this information closely.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Blue Collar Public Worker
a resident of another community
on May 1, 2010 at 4:35 pm

Peter
Do you have bright orange hair a big red nose and have size 25 shoes? If the shoe fits, you said it not me. It is sustainable and Pers says so, your ego is huge you think you know more than PERS. You know the City is going to spend allot of money on lawyers.

To all read carefully :Web Link
BCPW


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 1, 2010 at 5:27 pm

BCPW has brought a very important perspective to this discussion:
1 - He insists that these exorbitant retirement programs are sustainable simply because CalPers says they are - without recognizing that CalPers is not on the hook for any shortfall because CalPers will just pass that big bill on to the taxpayers.

2 -He provides us with a complete list of all the benefits that his chosen public servants receive and which, by my rough estimate, add at least 50% to their base salaries to get the total cost for those employees (if you fully fund their retirements.)

The very fact that an intelligent public servant believes that all is well with this situation is truly scary.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on May 1, 2010 at 9:28 pm

I'm totally with Peter on this one. BCPW, would you be willing to sign up for the CalPERS recommendations with the following condition: if they prove to be way too optimistic, the public workers take the hit, not the taxpayer? That would be putting your money where your mouth is.

Funny thing is, even though Menlo Park isn't going nearly far enough (exempting public safety from the surgery, as the primary example), at least they're doing something. Atherton isn't doing anything!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Blue Collar Public Worker
a resident of another community
on May 1, 2010 at 9:58 pm

Hmmmm
As a mater of fact I am, I put 7% into the plan. I understand what you are asking and yes I would. The ponit here is PERS will be OK. At the end of the day I think PERS will perform they have for 80 years. What I believe is really going on here is the same old story times are tough. When times are tough there is always a shift in the balance of power, money is power. I also think that some of these big money guys (Initiative founders) may have a personal interest in PERS. They ether want to privatize PERS so they can control the money or they have been beat up by PERS in one of their ventures.The PERS group has a long history of upsetting the apple cart. Most recently they told Bank of America they would not invest with them because they felt they were not a solvent as PERS thought they should be. At first blush may sound a little crazy but it is possible.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on May 1, 2010 at 10:04 pm

BCPW, then I think the problem is solved. If you are willing to accept my proposal, you would be giving up the defined benefit and accepting whatever the market returns on your 7% plus your employer's. It doesn't matter what CalPERS predicts in this case. This is really the crux of the argument: unions say that the plan is sustainable because of the predictions, the other side saying that's a pipe dream and the taxpayer will be left footing the bill.

By the way, although I suspect we fundamentally disagree on some of the fundamentals surrounding the pension issue, I do agree with you that when a pendulum swings, it usually goes pretty far in the other direction. Over the past ten years in California, unions got pretty good packages. Now Saturcay Night Live (at least a week ago) is satirizing the public worker in the U.S. (not just California). The pendulum will swing heavily in the other direction for awhile, and then find an equilibrium, just like all other bubbles.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

I Told My Mom She's Dying
By Chandrama Anderson | 11 comments | 2,454 views

Grab a Bowl of Heaven soon in Mountain View
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 1,753 views

Quick Check List for UC Applications
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 0 comments | 1,189 views

Fancy Fast and Fun!
By Laura Stec | 3 comments | 938 views

“I live near Sunset”
By Stuart Soffer | 5 comments | 458 views