Town Square

Post a New Topic

Debate on public employee salaries, benefits

Original post made on Dec 15, 2008

Before his final term ends as a board member of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District, Peter Carpenter aims to rouse the public to join the debate on employee salaries and benefits. His proposal to shine more light on labor contracts will be before the fire board Tuesday, Dec. 16. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the classroom behind fire district headquaters at 300 Middlefield Road in Menlo Park.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Saturday, December 13, 2008, 8:07 PM

Comments (16)

Like this comment
Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Dec 15, 2008 at 3:46 pm

Here come the Republicans and Libertarians demanding public negotiations with unions. They must have sent a letter out to the GOP locals because between Lee Duboc, Carpenter and Boyle, everyone is begging for the same exact want and using the exact same phrasing.

Funny thing is, no one ever asks for a public meeting when negotiating with developers, least of all Boyle who has made a habit out of hijacking the words "open and transparent" only when it suits his agenda.

Like this comment
Posted by Joan
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Dec 15, 2008 at 4:27 pm

Truth, It does seem like an organized effort, but from what I'm reading, the call is not for "public negotiations." Negotiations would still be in closed session. What Carpenter is asking for is a required posting period of 15 days so that the public can access the information and review it, if they want to. Now, there's very little opportunity to review a tentative agreement before the fire board members sign off on it. Is that such a bad idea?

Like this comment
Posted by Joanna
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Dec 15, 2008 at 5:31 pm

Not a bad idea at all! This is controversial only to those who prefer secrecy over openness.

Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 15, 2008 at 9:02 pm

I support closed negotiations to reach a mutually acceptable labor agreement but feel strongly that such tentative agreements should be submitted not only to a vote by the union members but also to public scrutiny. If an agreement cannot withstand public scrutiny then there is something fundamentally wrong with the proposed agreement. I encourage advocate of both sides to attend the 16 Dec. Fire Board meeting to express your opinion.

Like this comment
Posted by You Go Peter!
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Dec 16, 2008 at 10:03 am

You are absolutely correct Peter, don't let "Truth" get to you. He has a very odd opinion about developers versus unions. Funny how my tax dollars aren't paying for what the developer SUGGESTS, and then our council gets to vote on, but Unions are spending my tax dollars, every day, 70%-80% of our tax dollars go toward overinflated salaries, benefits and retirement plans! His opinions make NO sense in this current environment. It's to make some fiscally responsible decisions!

Like this comment
Posted by Agree Peter.
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Dec 16, 2008 at 10:11 am

I couldn't agree with Pete Carpenter more. John Boyle etc. have nothing to do with my opinion, or any other responsible tax payer's opinion. We HAVE to understand the money being spent these days with the unions. For anyone to suggest that employees, ANY employees, should have a salary increase over and above other's in similar COLA's is nuts. Do these people read the paper, or watch the local evening news? We are in a recession!

Like this comment
Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Dec 16, 2008 at 11:49 am

Peter does deserve some kudos for taking this initative. I think there is merit to his concept. I would rather see Peter present the idea than hear Boyle steal the idea, corrupt it into his own agenda and try to make it his own.

Like this comment
Posted by C'mon Vince!
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Dec 16, 2008 at 4:33 pm

Bla, bla, bla John Boyle! Bla, Bla, Bla, John Boyle! Bla, Bla, Bla, John Boyle! C'mon Vince, we know you're still upset that he beat you for that last slot! You'll have another chance, in two years, how 'bout you leave him alone until then?! Your sour grapes are showing!

Like this comment
Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Dec 17, 2008 at 12:57 pm

All negotiations for contracts over $100K should be open. For the person criticizing developers- Where would you live if it weren't for a developer. The lunatic left loves to criticize anyone who is not for income redistribution (socialism). The SEIU was founded by a communist. The Unions are killing our county's ability to compete globally. The U.S. will be surpassed by Communist China by 2050 in GNP. We have the unions to thank for that.

Like this comment
Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Dec 17, 2008 at 2:07 pm

Truth, lately you and I have semed to be "almost, but not quite" in agreement on a variety of issues. This is another example. I agree that the idea has merit. However, it seems to be that Boyle should be given the kudos for raising this issue while not in a lame duck mode, while Carpenter, if he really believes in it, should have raised the issue earlier in his tenure. Not important to the topic, just a style issue for me.

Like this comment
Posted by Marva Oaks
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Dec 18, 2008 at 12:17 pm

Hank, if the "commies" in China are beating the US, how is the US being doomed by its "communist" unions? Are you saying that Chinese Communism is a winning economic formula?

Like this comment
Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Dec 18, 2008 at 3:23 pm


China is now CINO- Communist in name only. China is not burdened by Unions that make them non-competive on a global scale. The Unions are the reason that the U.S. is finding it increasingly more difficult to compete on a global scale. I am not buying another Detroit car until the UAW contract is in line with salaries and benefits of U.S. non-union workers in the auto plants in the South. U.S. workers working in Nissan, BMW, and Mercedes plants in the South are making better quality autos at a more reasonable price.

Like this comment
Posted by Wow
a resident of another community
on Dec 18, 2008 at 4:47 pm

So are saying you want us to work for lower wages? I can't believe anyone wants to tie American workers to wages earned in the third world. That seems like societal suicide. I am no big union fan, but so little of our population are part of unions anymore, that I think it is moot.

Now I am no expert, but on the radio today they were saying that labor only accounts for 10% of a vehicle's cost, and that "executive costs" are much higher. It takes a lot of folks working at $60 per hour for a lifetime, to make what one of their execs makes in a year. I am a free market guy to a point. The government regulating salaries pangs of Cuba. If the market can sustain it, great. If not, like we are seeing now, it will have to change.

I am no fan of bailouts, but I find it laughable that Congress can throw $700 billion at Wall Street with no plan and no oversight...but the hundred of thousands of job with our car makers, who ask for a paltry $25 billion (which is still astounding mind you)are treated like they cretins.

Oh...and on point, I do not care how much we pay firemen and long as there are enough of them to successfully do the job when we need them without bankrupting the government. Sure I don't use them alot...I don't use my home owners or car insurance alot either...but I pay for the day I will need them.

Like this comment
Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Dec 19, 2008 at 9:25 am

The $700 B bailout was panic shrouded in disaster. It should have never happened. But as far as Detroit is concerned Ford, Chrysler & GM should go into Chapter 11 and then renegotiate the UAW contracts to be on par with the non-union auto workers. If the big 3 and the UAW refuse to do so then we should let them go out of business. Only after entering into Chapter 11 and renogotiating the UAW contracts should the USG offer any kind of bailout. The argument for lower wages is specious. The real argument is that UAW should not be paid a premium over prevailing autoworker wages in the United States. It's unconscionable to allow the UAW to bully the USG. The UAW should either accept the wages and benefits on par with the non-union autoworkers or forfeit their jobs. And to let the USG manage the auto companies is laughable. I remember the last Government foray into managing the auto industry when Serbia managed the production of the Yugo car manufactured by Zastava. By the way the Yugo was voted the worst car of the millenium.

Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 19, 2008 at 10:09 am

Fire Board adopted resolution on public dissemination of pending labor agreements at its 16 Dec meeting by vote of 4-1

Resolution No.



WHEREAS, in accordance with the policy of promoting prompt public access to government records, the California Public Records Act broadly defines public records (Gov. Code Section 6252, subdivision (3)) and the exceptions to disclosing public records under the California Public Records Act are narrow; and

WHEREAS, the Ralph M. Brown Act, Government Code Sections 54950 through 54963, enacted into law in 1953, requires open meetings of local agencies “to curb misuse of the democratic process by secret legislation of public bodies”; and

WHEREAS, the Ralph M. Brown Act “…reflects a legislative determination that ‘public agencies in this State exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business,’ and an intent ‘that their actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly’ (Gov. Code Section 54950); and

WHEREAS, the Ralph M. Brown Act and the California Public Records Act require the District to conduct its business in a transparent manner; and

WHEREAS, the Board, as duly elected representatives of the citizens within the District, in conformance with the Ralph M. Brown Act and the California Public Records Act, is committed to providing the District’s citizens with information considered by the Board in making its decisions; and

WHEREAS, the Board believes due to the importance of proposed collective bargaining agreements with the District employee labor representatives, that these proposed agreements should be made available to the citizens of the District in sufficient time prior to the Board’s adoption of the proposed agreements so as to allow for adequate review and comment by the public prior to final Board action.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Directors of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District does hereby move that any proposed collectively bargained labor agreement between the District and designated District employee representatives shall be made publicly available at least fifteen (15) calendar days before the meeting at which the agreement will be acted on by the Board.

PASSED AND ADOPTED as a resolution of the Board of Directors of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District at the Regular Meeting held on the 16th day of December 2008 by the following vote:

AYES: Spencer, Brown, Ohtaki and Carpenter

NOES: Ianson




Barton P. Spencer, President

Like this comment
Posted by Curious
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 22, 2008 at 10:57 am

This sounds like a good step, but I'm curious. Although labor negotiations are supposed to happen in private, would it be legal to update the public as to the terms currently on the table after each private negotiation session? If so, that might be an even better way to go. Does anyone know?

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


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

Opening alert: Kyosho Sushi in Menlo Park
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 1,996 views

Umeboshi - The Macrobiotic Antibiotic
By Laura Stec | 0 comments | 1,296 views

Love is a Verb
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,194 views

On Voter Databases and Election Systems
By Stuart Soffer | 3 comments | 285 views


Meet the winners!

The results are in. Check out The Almanac readers' favorite foods, services and fun stuff in the area.

View Winners