Troy Henderson, Atherton's public works supervisor, is retiring this Thursday, June 30, after 35 years of working for the town. Although he had planned to work another year, he had, along with 12 other employees, received a pink slip last month, and may have been laid off July 15.
Mr. Henderson, 61, said the retirement was his choice, but that as the union was engaged in an urgent effort to negotiate staff concessions to save jobs on the chopping block -- including with early retirements -- he felt pressure to end his career in Atherton.
"They needed someone to be retired," he told the Almanac, adding that because of his age and years of service, he was a likely candidate. But "it's sad not to go out on my own terms. It hurts ... but that's the way it is."
The town notified 13 employees in the building and public works department of its intent to lay them off late last month, and began the process of outsourcing the services they provide, seeking proposals from private companies.
Since then, the union has offered concessions ranging from early retirement and employee furloughs to higher employee contributions to benefits.
The union and the town were scheduled to meet on June 27 to further discuss the proposal.
Mr. Henderson started his work with the town as a general laborer, and went on to be public works supervisor. "If it's been done in this town, I've done it," he said.
In 2008, he was accused by Atherton police officer Pilar Ortiz-Buckley of assault and battery after an incident that occurred in the police station staff room. A jury returned a "not guilty" verdict in July 2009.
Mr. Henderson said he has "nothing to say about all that," but in discussing his tenure with the town, he said: "I've been through a lot in the last 35 years. ... I've had some really bad heartaches in this town -- people lie about you, they fabricate about you, but I've always just kept my head up."
In spite of the heartaches, Mr. Henderson said that he loves Atherton, "and I wish the town the best of luck." He regrets that the town is heading in the direction of outsourcing and laying off employees who have "given their all to it, who love this town so much."