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Union charges Palo Alto with violating law

Original post made on Sep 25, 2009

Palo Alto's largest labor union has filed an "unfair practice charge" against the city, accusing city officials of acting in "bad faith" and flouting labor laws during bitter contract negotiations that have extended since May.
■ [Web Link A timeline of the negotiations]
■ [Web Link Union strikes in Palo Alto]

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, September 25, 2009, 7:37 AM

Comments (78)

Posted by Bunhugger
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 25, 2009 at 8:27 am

This is what you get when you live in a mostly Democratic area. The SEIU feels like they can run over you because they supplied your favorite candidate with a lot of money.


Posted by Facts
a resident of another community
on Sep 25, 2009 at 8:29 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 25, 2009 at 8:34 am

The union thinks it is wrong for a manager to communicate with his employees and ask for their input?

And it sounds like since the negotiations weren't going the way they wanted they expect the court to say the City needs to negotiate more and give us what we want because we want it.


Posted by All I Have to Say
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 25, 2009 at 8:37 am

I want a City Manager who does not have to solicit ideas from employees on how to do their job. Frank Benest did the same thing. Is this what our tax dollars are paying for? Sounds like Keene may be in a heap of mess. I hope the workers who come by my neighborhood keep up the great work they provide to our community.


Posted by Thomas Seay
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 25, 2009 at 9:34 am

Good for the SEIU!


Posted by Lily R
a resident of another community
on Sep 25, 2009 at 9:45 am

Jim Keene says, "I feel it is important to trust and respect employees and to recognize that they have great ideas and great knowledge," Keene said. "It's been a successful way for me to work, and I've made a commitment to try to implement ideas that come from our employees."

The truth is that the meetings were scheduled after the negotiations went sour. If he were sincere, he would have scheduled these meetings when he started last September. No one was allowed to discuss anything at the meetings, since he did all of the talking. The meeting were so poorly attended that Jim and Russ had to "mandate" attendance at the meetings and they kept a list of who attended the meetings. Most who attended have never seen him. Jim does not even talk to employees and wants them all to retire or leave. His actions are only what the City Council tells him to do. Larry Klein's re-elect web page says he wants to cover 2/3 of the $10 million deficit by reducing employees (1/3) and a 5% pay cut (1/3). Jim Keene only cares about his $2.5 million from Council for his new house and his $37,000 in free deferred compensation, plus a $600 per month car allowance. A 5% paycut at his salary only saves taxes for him. Check it out, his compensation package went for Council approval last year. They did add an additional $500,000 for the house, since he could not build a house in Palo Alto for only $2 million. Leadership is sadly lacking in Palo Alto, but look at the City Council. Meetings are long past midnight, boring, and full of political posturing for their re-election campaigns. Kisimoto is so anti-labor that I cannot believe she wants to run for Ira Ruskin's job. They are so ill informed that they did not even know that PA employees do not get Social Security. Council also gets great medical coverage even after they leave. Let them lead by example and give that up. The library issue and the trees on California Ave are a perfect example of the Council's dysfunction. With all of the delays in getting reports to Council and Council's micromanagement its a wonder anything gets done.



Posted by long-time resident
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 25, 2009 at 10:46 am

Maybe it might sound naive to some, but.... what about approaching contract negotiations with an attitude of fairness, openness, honesty and mutual respect and stop wallowing in attacks and name-calling.
Anyone who has been on this planet for a few years will hopefully learn that sometimes people make mistakes, or they may try something in good faith and it may not turn out as anticipated. We need as civil, respectful human beings to have compassion and understanding and stop bickering, bickering, bickering -- and try to love each other.
Many problems -- and wounds -- are fixed this way.
And then we can all move on to work together to solve the next problem.


Posted by Clem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 25, 2009 at 10:47 am

I want a city manager that tells the truth. Mr. Keene said he called for the town hall meetings now because he was new to the city, and called them now because summer is a "slow time".
FIRST he is NOT new to the city. He has been working here a year and had not made any attempt to communicate in person with non management personnel as a group until now, in the middle of stalled negotiations. He is not new! Timing?
SECOND. Apparently he was not paying much attention to his workers in Berkeley and Tuscon during the past twenty years either, because in Palo Alto's City Public Works and Utilities departments there is never a slow time, and we are especially busy in summer. Both reasons he gave for having these meetings now were BOGUS and we know it.
Having these meetings is a good idea, but the timing is VERY SUSPICIOUS. By the way, he scheduled over 20 of these 2 hour long "town hall" meetings that originally were voluntary, but became mandatory for some employees because of poor attendance.

Even though councilman Larry Klein says he is not interested in any employee input unless you are management, a city manager, ANY good manager, should solicit input, because on many levels we know our jobs better than he does, and we should. Lack of management understanding and caring, or employee input led to the installation of a new $10,000 sink in the shower room at the Municipal Service Center that does not serve the purpose of letting hard working Utlities and Public Works employees clean up at the end of the day. The sink is too small for these big guys. When this was pointed out to facilities management they said too bad, "get used to it", and that the wrong sink for the job "cost $10,000 dollars and it's not going away".
By the way, the cuts the city is proposing hit the lowest paid workers the hardest. The hurt is NOT being equally shared by police, fire, SEIU, and management like Mr Keene has said in the town hall meetings.
Palo Alto Mom, and Bunhugger: WRONG. WRONG.
Have another nice day in Palo Alto, thanks to the people who do the work of the City!


Posted by Bunhugger
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 25, 2009 at 11:15 am

"Palo Alto Mom, and Bunhugger: WRONG. WRONG."

Gee, that was really insightful. I guess the truth really hit home?


Posted by Dan
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 25, 2009 at 11:37 am

Looks like the union has decided to tell their members to write comment in to this site, from the sounds of it.

BTW,
1. yes Keene is new to Palo Alto - you should use a new argument
2. No one is asking the union to "give up" health benefits, like you say the council should. You are being asked to act like the rest of the working world and contribute something to yours. And the council should do that too.
3. Don't complain about Larry Klein. He and Keene are doing what needs to be done to keep the city solvent. Obviously that's not a concern of the union nor its members.
4. I have worked in the private sector for 40 years and it is ALWAYS good for management to seek input from employees. The union leadership doesn't want that to happen because all of a sudden they would be out of a job (and the salary THAT pays).

Also, I agree that the City Council is a sham and avoid council meeting like the plague. Thank goodness for TIVO where I can forward through everyone's political posturing.


Posted by commonsense
a resident of Green Acres
on Sep 25, 2009 at 11:40 am

The city workers are necessary and in many cases great. However, the issue is how much are they overpaid? Market labor rates should not be off the table nor working beyond 55. $70,000 a year for a meter maid? Give me a break!


Posted by Bunhugger
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 25, 2009 at 11:57 am

So, let's see -- getting your members to argue with residents online. Yep, that will *really* win us over.


Posted by lorrie kent
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 25, 2009 at 12:25 pm

This is a fight now. This will not be ending anytime soon.
Why cant the city employes accept some loss? We all have taken financial hits this year.
Too bad their outcome is not put to a citywide vote.
They have no support from me.


Posted by long-time resident
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 25, 2009 at 12:47 pm

Where is the truth in all that is being said here.
Some of it rings of truth but some doesn't.

If I can express some thoughts I would like to thank you, Dan, for comments 1 and 2.

May I change #3 a little? It appears city workers are willing to take a pay cut, and take furlough days to help the city remain solvent so they ARE trying to come up with a plan to help. A pay cut would automatically save the city some money and a furlough plan would help act as a "safty valve" so to speak, wouldn't it?

Can I also comment on #4. I don't believe the only reason unions exist is to take money for themselves but rather to be protecting workers from corporate greed, but, like any organization or individual, the responsibility always remains to act in the highest interests of all involved. This includes being honest, and even at times selfless.

In an earlier comment I called living by higher standards "naivete."
I would like to call it instead, "wisdom."

May this whole situation be resolved quickly, fairly, and with wisdom.


Posted by Joe
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 25, 2009 at 12:48 pm

> The city workers are necessary

No .. they are not. The city government has certain obligations that it needs to fulfill to its residents and businesses. How these obligations are fulfilled is a matter of choice. If a job can be performed by the private sector, then those jobs can be outsourced on a biddable contract basis. Some jobs might be better provided by employees, but not all. City governments have been outsourcing some of these jobs for over a decade now. For instance, tree trimming is something that most cities have to do. There is nothing about trimming trees that requires a dedicated work force. Or grounds keeping, or street repair, or cleaning, or even most jobs in libraries could be provided by private sector employees. Under SIEU leadership, government workers have become so expensive that within a decade or two, it's likely that many cities will have to declare bankruptcy just to get free of these toxic effect of these labor demands.

And yes .. 70,000 (and soon more) .. is too much to pay meter maids, or cement levelers.


Posted by Andrew
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 25, 2009 at 1:00 pm

Puh-lease - people in industry are getting benefits/salary cuts and the Union doesn't recognize this. Good luck with that guys. Sheesh what a bunch of thinly veiled thugs. Grow and stop leeching.


Posted by Annabelle
a resident of Meadow Park
on Sep 25, 2009 at 1:59 pm

The labor issue IS being put to a Palo Alto citywide vote November 3 in the form of the City Council election. Study carefully the CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES you are planning to vote for.

Are they favored by labor?
Are they endorsed by labor?
Are they accepting union contributions, money and/or volunteer labor? (Unions routinely make their contributions and publish their 'hit' pieces very late in campaigns so their financial contributions don't show up in required disclosures until the last minute or later.)
Are they favored in materials published by union/labor organizations? (You may have to look closely at the bottom of the sheet for the union symbol.)
Are there Letters to the Editor suggesting they are 'fair' to labor?

If you favor the union position in Palo Alto, vote for those candidates favored by labor. There may be others besides Gail Price and Cory Levens; does anyone know who they may be?

On the other hand...well, you know the obvious.


Posted by zanon
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Sep 25, 2009 at 2:25 pm

City Council Elections is not a good way to put the Union position to the vote.

There should be a direct vote: who things that $117,000/year average salary plus huge job security plus early retirement etc. etc. is the right amount for city employees, and who things it is too much?

Who thinks there are too many city employees, and who things there are too few?

City employees should not be able to participate in the vote, for the same reasons CEOs should not be on their own compensation committee.

Also, the city should sue the union for its illegal wildcat strike on Thursday.


Posted by long-time resident
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 25, 2009 at 2:43 pm

Can I ask? Where does the amount of $117,000 per year as an average salary come from? I've heard an amount somewhere in the $86,000 range as an average salary. Where are all these numbers coming from?
How are they arrived at?

Should we be giving sources for our information?

Should we also be accurately comparing what other cities pay their employees with what Palo Alto pays?


Posted by John Q. Public
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 25, 2009 at 2:55 pm

Here is the latest contract proposal offer from the City web site: Web Link


Posted by numbers
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 25, 2009 at 3:02 pm

The average SEIU salary was reported as around $72,000 with total compensation worth around $114,000: Web Link

The $117,000 figure that people are quoting here appears to be derived from using the amount SEIU claimed Palo Alto "saved" by yesterday's strike based on the number of SEIU members (617).


Posted by Reader
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 25, 2009 at 3:02 pm

Joe:
Did you know that librarians have masters degrees in library science? You may not think that it's a worthwhile profession, but please keep the insults out of this conversation, if you can.


Posted by PA worker
a resident of another community
on Sep 25, 2009 at 3:21 pm

I can assure everyone that that union has not encouraged anyone to post here. Most of us are aware of this forum because we've been a part of this community for a long time. I remember back when the Times Tribune published it's paper out of Palo Alto. Some of us grew up and went to school here and love the city but can no longer afford to live here. The contributions the city wants us to make mean a signifigant reduction in our net pay, something we can't afford. We have kids and bills and day care etc. I make around 52,000 a year. I am greatfull for this job, but that money doesn't go far in California.


Posted by Old Palo Alto
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 25, 2009 at 3:52 pm

What does "negotiate in bad faith" mean? When union works observe a "furlough" isn't that bad faith? Holding the city hostage isn't bad faith. Why not break the union in Palo Alto now while we have a chance? I'd bet that if city managers ran a simple ad for positions on craigslist people would come from all over California to work here.


Posted by Joe
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 25, 2009 at 4:33 pm

> Did you know that librarians have
> masters degrees in library science?

A few of the jobs in the library do "officially" require an MLS, but it is difficult to understand how people who check in books, or replace books on the shelves, or read stories to children, or sit at the reference desk and look up things using Google actually require an MLS to do those jobs.

It's also difficult to understand how buy books, based on patron requests, or using computer generated discard lists to cull book from the stacks and see that they are properly discarded requires an MLS either.

There seem to have been very little technology utilized by the library over the years, and what has been utilized has been driven by patrons (like the addition of wireless, the addition of Internet Stations, and the use of loaner Laptops. Most all of this has been driven by requests from the users, and/or contributions from sources outside the library staff.

There is little evidence than anyone, save perhaps the Director, needs an MLS to function as a public library employee these days. But if there were, there is absolutely no evidence that only a city employee with such a credential is the only way to get these jobs done.




Posted by Larry
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 25, 2009 at 4:52 pm

The union needs to be be more organized. I've paid dues for many years and I am very unhappy with the union actions.


Posted by To Joe
a resident of another community
on Sep 25, 2009 at 4:52 pm

The incredible ignorance you just displayed in your most recent post has thoroughly negated any reasonable argument you were trying to make. Furthermore, if you look at the pay tables on the city webpage you'll see that virtually all library staff are UNDER the SEIU average by a very large margin. Thanks for playing.


Posted by numbers
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 25, 2009 at 4:58 pm

To Joe, I was thinking the same thing.


Posted by Joe
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 25, 2009 at 5:07 pm

> The incredible ignorance you just displayed

Hmm .. I believe that everything I posted is true .. but you are invited to demonstrate how it is not.

As to pay, I don't believe I have mentioned specific dollar amounts in any of my posts .. I don't see how your retort is at all meaningful.

My thrust of my posts are that the city government does not need to hire employees to deliver the services that it must. It does need to spend money for labor, however. Spending that money on lower cost private sector labor is an option available to the city government, including library and other community services services.

If the pay rates for library workers is thought to be too low by some, them take a trip to the library see what the workers in plain view are doing .. maybe checking in books, maybe restacking books .. and maybe talking to people. Not clear how much that warrants in terms of salary .. but there are not jobs that warrant much more than minimum wage.


Posted by Lineman for the City
a resident of another community
on Sep 25, 2009 at 5:24 pm

"The $117,000 figure that people are quoting here appears to be derived from using the amount SEIU claimed Palo Alto "saved" by yesterday's strike based on the number of SEIU members (617)"

I believe I can help with the $117,000 figure. Since the day was an unpaid day the City didn't have to pay retirement and other employee benefit costs. These are called roll up costs. The City saved more than just base salary.


Posted by Lineman for the City
a resident of another community
on Sep 25, 2009 at 5:39 pm

"I'd bet that if city managers ran a simple ad for positions on craigslist people would come from all over California to work here."

Here's a link to the City's employment page:
Web Link
These seem to be some pretty specialized positions. I very seriously doubt craigslist will help.

"So, let's see -- getting your members to argue with residents online. Yep, that will *really* win us over."

Hmm, we are under attack and when we defend ourselves we're arguing.


Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 25, 2009 at 6:10 pm


The libraries are overstaffed.

Most people seem to be checking out free DVD or using the computers.

In the Down Town and Main branches it would make more sense to have a few social workers, EMTs or security guards rather than librarians.

Most people do not browse the racks apart from the new releases, instead they browse the books by computer, reserve and pick them up.

Cutting the staff by 60% will cause no problem.


Posted by craiglist
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 25, 2009 at 6:37 pm

- goes to craiglist
- searches for "lineman"
- 2 entries
- last entry in 2007
- goes to council site for entry
- no vacancy
go craiglist


Posted by Hillary
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 25, 2009 at 6:48 pm

Have the City of Palo Alto employees who are expressing great misgivings about the current City offer, honestly studied the City offer themselves, or are they taking their union management's word for it? If so, real bad idea. Union management is conducting themselves like the Teamsters of old, goon squads, shouting, booing, sick-outs, it is not a credible performance. Web Link
It just doesn't seem like current employees give up much, if anything, at all. I don't get it.


Posted by Reader
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 25, 2009 at 7:05 pm

Sharon, you have a point about the Downtown Library needing social workers, etc, not librarians. Well, there aren't any librarians at the downtown library....it's staffed with library assistants. Not everyone who works in a library is a librarian. And to Joe....there is so much more to operating a library that you clearly don't know about. Yes, the city could likely get less educated, lower paid workers but they would get what they pay for. We are actually proud of our profession and the service we provide.


Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 25, 2009 at 7:27 pm

Reader, I watch library workers all the time and it's clear there is a lot o behind the scenes work being done, requiring time and knowledge. Even with all the self-serve features of the library, people need competent assistance. There are so many jobs in dealing with the public in which the public only sees a small part of the operation. It's really narrow to think that you can deliver services the way PA residents demand w/major cuts. It makes me wonder how they'd behave if the shoe was on the other foot.


Posted by Reader
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 25, 2009 at 7:43 pm

Hmmm,
Thank you so much for the kind words. Let's hope for a reasonable ending to this whole mess......


Posted by semantics
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 25, 2009 at 8:08 pm

Reader, we all do. Both residents & workers. The problem is with the definition of "reasonable".

p.s. Hopefully Joe won't be posting again.


Posted by Melvin R.
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Sep 26, 2009 at 8:25 am

Let's get rid of Jim Keene. He's here for the money and once he gets all he can from us, he will move on to the next city with the highest offer. He does not care about a city he has no ties to whatsoever. He should go back to Tucson "where everyone thinks alike."


Posted by SEIU Member
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 26, 2009 at 9:18 am

Jim Keene is the best city manager Palo Alto has had forever. He communicates with us, he holds meetings, he seems like a straight shooter.

We are not real happy with the message he is communicating coming from Council, but we understand the logic. I, for one, am OK with accepting the City offer. I came to work Thursday to demonstrate I am OK with it. Even some of my friends manning the picket lines are OK with the City proposal because it does not touch our paychecks, just future benefits a little bit, but my union's management has a different idea.

My concern is that our union management's idea may be rooted in proving 'how tough they are.' That doesn't have anything to do with me trying to put food on the table each and every day.


Posted by city worker
a resident of another community
on Sep 26, 2009 at 9:20 am

Jim Keene does not care about any of his employees. Morale is at an all-time low and he has lost the respect of most of the city workers.

You should see how many people he keeps hiring into the City Manager's Office. It's ridiculous. He's padding his inner circle with his cronies who "think alike".




Posted by Fact Checker
a resident of another community
on Sep 26, 2009 at 10:31 am

SEIU Member,

Please check the City web page about the cost of proposed cuts.

(Actual net impact to this change, including pre-tax deductions, would mean a married couple with 1 child making an average SEIU salary of $72,660 would pay an additional $108 each bi-weekly paycheck, or 3.9% of salary).

Web Link

3.9% of salary is not a no brainer. This is ONE piece of their proposed compromises.

If you add up all they are asking, it is steep. But negotiations aren't over.


Posted by Please Explain
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 26, 2009 at 11:52 am

SEIU Member

Please explain your comment

"OK with the City proposal because it does not touch our paychecks, just future benefits a little bit"

I am SEIU in Mountain View and we get a raise in our contract but I will still be living paycheck to paycheck because of a rent increase. You will be losing take home pay by at least $200 a month (more if you are single) and have no wage increase for at least two years. Is your landlord reducing your rent?


Posted by everybody's doing it
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 26, 2009 at 12:01 pm

Please Explain, you're still doing better than if you were in the private sector. Web Link
"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."


Posted by Please Explain
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 26, 2009 at 12:48 pm

everybody's doing it

I'm not in any of those departments or in that county. I don't make anywhere near the money the media is saying the "Average City of Mountain View Employee" makes. Just because it's in print doesn't make it so. Ask some of the people who work for you.


Posted by Fact Checker
a resident of another community
on Sep 26, 2009 at 1:34 pm

Hello Everybody's Doing It,

Interesting piece you cited. It is from August this year. Since then other cities have settled their contracts without the kind of gouging going on in PA. Some got raises, others got nothing new, nothing taken away.

City workers do NOT get more money during the fat times, and take this kind of abuse during the lean times. If you choose to work in the private sector, do it. If you choose to use city services, do it. But back off things you do not understand, like what city workers do for a living, how they are treated by the public, and how they see others getting stinking rich off the backs of others, then cry in their beer when the money dries up.


Posted by Fact Checker
a resident of another community
on Sep 26, 2009 at 1:38 pm

Just checked the PA listing of jobs and salaries.

Parks & Rec. assistant earns average 22,000 a year.
The article must be talking police and fire and management.


Posted by No Thanks
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 26, 2009 at 1:41 pm

I opened the weblink referring to an article that says something about "task force of politicians" and closed it right away. I'm wading through enough b.s. on this forum already.


Posted by No Thanks
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 26, 2009 at 1:44 pm

p.s. I think Fire and Police personnel should make more money than those in the private sector. They put their lives on the line everyday and they save lives. Do you?


Posted by everybody's doing it
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 26, 2009 at 3:23 pm

"City workers do NOT get more money during the fat times,"

Yeah, right! And you really wonder why you're not getting public support?

No Thanks,
We should pay above the odds for park and recreation services because Fire and Police personnel put their lives on the line everyday. Nice logic you've got there.


Posted by No Thanks
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 26, 2009 at 4:05 pm

everybody's doing it

"We should pay above the odds for park and recreation services because Fire and Police personnel put their lives on the line everyday"

When did I say that?

Police and Fire Personnel should make more than people in the private sector. Do you disagree?


Posted by No Thanks
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 26, 2009 at 7:36 pm

I hope all of you SEIU employees get a fair deal. The City is starting with the little people. They'll go after Police and Fire once their contracts are up. It's just the beginning. I shall sign off wishing you all the best. I have a 6 a.m. flight to Ireland and will have far better things to do with my time than to read the rest of the b.s. on this forum. Hopefully things will be resolved when I get back and we can all go back to being neighborly.


Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 26, 2009 at 7:47 pm


The Irish economy has collapsed, public workers have been laid off in droves and their salaries and benefits dramatically reduced and they are facing much worse.
If the CPA workers are rational they will fire SEIU and negotiate a rational agreement that will help them avoid the plight of Irish public workers.
Time is running out, the economy does not look good moving forward, the deal PAC workers get in the next few days will be the best for 3 years if that.They are going to have to accept dramatic cuts in salary and benefits and huge cuts in head count, like GM


Posted by N. McArdle
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 26, 2009 at 8:01 pm

Comparing the Irish economy to Palo Alto is like apples and potatoes. We moved here from Ireland to prosper in the land of opportunity. So far, so good.


Posted by zanon
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Sep 26, 2009 at 10:51 pm

There was a time when fire and police really did put their lives on the line. Now, not so much (compare life expectancy from 1950s to now). Still, they deserve some premium, but not as much as they have. City cannot afford it.

SEIU should all be fired and have to re-apply for their jobs.


Posted by jason
a resident of another community
on Sep 27, 2009 at 12:16 am

zanon, i disagree with your comment. life expectancy for police and fire has improved since the 1950s with better training and technology. They put their lives on the line every bit as much as in the 1950s. Your comment is just plain rude.


Posted by cc
a resident of Southgate
on Sep 27, 2009 at 9:35 am

zanon, you are way out of line with that comment about Police and Fire. I will not elaborate, as there is no need to. As far as SEIU re-applying for their jobs, they would ALL get them back.(If they wanted them still)That's a no brainer. Also, no need to elaborate...geez.

sharon/nostradomos, thanks, I've been hoping for an end to this nonsense, however not with the 1980's vision you have for the solution. Actually things are looking up and should continue on a recovery path for a year or two, no matter how much negativity you inject into the reality. Hope you are prepared for the heartbreak when your predictions don't come true.


Posted by Toady
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 27, 2009 at 1:26 pm

"Police and Fire Personnel should make more than people in the private sector. Do you disagree?"

Yep, I do disagree. People should be paid based on supply and demand. Fewer folks want to ride a red truck for a living, then you should raise salaries to attract them. If more people want to do so than there are spots, then you should pay less.

That's the way the real world works, duh.


Posted by opus
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 27, 2009 at 2:51 pm

same posters, same dribble. lighten up and enjoy life!


Posted by Disappointed the comments
a resident of another community
on Sep 27, 2009 at 4:45 pm

It is really disheartening to see how many people put their opinions up online or talk with the media and blast their mouths off in areas they have no real concept of what is going on.
From what I am reading most have no real concept about what is really taking place. What I am saying you are not in the middle of it, and the people that are making ridiculous comment have obviously have no idea what is going on behind closed doors, and the moral of the city workers currently.
It is quite apparent this is not your current place of employment and it’s not affecting your lively hood, children, house payments, bills, food, medical, retirement. Does it? Because, if it did affect your family, you all would shut your mouths and have an entirely different opinion.
My husband has been dedicated to this city and people that live in this city for many, many years. He has always been extremely proud to represent the city and takes great pride in his job. He has been at the city’s beck and call for whatever is needed and required in order to keep services working so you all can drive around town. On countless occasions he has been required to be on call 24/7 for 7 days at a time. Adding up to a lot of time over the years and he sacrificed his family’s personal time or children’s special events, and in some cases his holidays, so all the people of Palo Alto would not have to have their own lives interrupted by glitches of technology or services down.
By some of the comments that I read, it sounds as if anyone could walk right in and take over, this isn’t the case. There are many specialized fields and educated people that are keeping your lights and making sure that all is flowing where it needs to be going from the sewage water to the traffic on the streets to the people that show up to your house in the case of an emergency. This city doesn’t just flow by its self it takes people to make that happen. A wage of $72,660 on average isn’t a lot for today’s pay with a large group of people that put their lives on the line for you and keep everything moving.
You want to seeing where to save some money, maybe the savings should start at the city management.


Posted by more info
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 27, 2009 at 7:23 pm

Dissappointed, if you can provide more information than has already been reported that would be useful. Simple emotional arguments ain't gonna cut it.


Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 28, 2009 at 8:17 am

What "Disappointed" posted was not just "simple emotional arguments". It was a description of the deep burning sense of betrayal many of the city workers must now feel.

It's one thing to posit an argument that the city needs to save money. The city workers have demonstrated quite well that they are willing to work towards that goal. But the "deep structural" changes (i.e. union busting) agenda---one started with an area wide "Grand Jury Report" and perhaps a violation of anti-trust law---is perhaps the real goal that is being striven for. Some on these pages in fact jubilantly trumpet that. It's as if you view the city workers as akin to guys you would pick up outside Home Depot---"oh honey don't go over to that group, go over to the Guatemalan group they're dollars cheaper than the Mexicans".


Posted by Disappointed
a resident of another community
on Sep 28, 2009 at 8:48 am

Resident of the Adobe-Meadows neighborhood-

Obviously you don’t get it! I wasn’t making an argument; I was stating a fact about what goes on in my household.

…Simple emotions? You are really out of touch, simple emotions control how the bears and bulls work the stock market daily, simple emotions have started wars for thousands of years, simple emotions determine the outcome of our own lives. Don’t be so foolish, emotions and passion drives everything.

The specialized fields in the city??? Let me paint a clear picture….If the city has a major power outage are you going to be able to get the city up and going again? If the city’s traffic signal system was down and put out of commission, would you be able to get the traffic moving through the city again? If Facebook’s networking was shut down, are you going to be able to come to the rescue and fix it? If the communication system in the city,(internet) was to crash and go down are you going to be able going to be able to troubleshoot the problem and put the city back online? If your home is on fire who do you call? If your wife is raped or murdered or your child is abducted, who would you call? City Workers, that’s who, these people what makes it possible for you to enjoy the city without looking at trash on the streets and city parks. These people give you a piece of mind of protection for you and your family, and oh, and did I mention life’s simple needs like having electricity, internet, water & sewage directly to your home with no inconveniences for you.

As far as the last sentence of my comment, go do your homework on the city manager James Keene, see what mayhem he turned Tucson into. He ran out of that city before he was thrown out. Being fired doesn’t look good on the resume. This is public knowledge, go do some research on this man and check it out.

…and one last thought, SEIU workers took a self-declared, unpaid "furlough" day, which union members described as a day to volunteer in the community and a way to save the city nearly $231,000. It took 617 people combined to total that sum. This dollar amount is still way below the total salary that James Keene makes 1 person!
By the way disappointed is spelled with one s, not two.


Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Sep 28, 2009 at 8:50 am

That "deep burning sense of betrayal" will be manifest in the "Palo Alto Process".

California Ave was just the start.

You have awoken a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve.



Posted by more info
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 28, 2009 at 9:43 am

Dissapointed and A Noun Ea Mus, you are confusing working for Palo Alto with welfare.


Posted by AcornIsHere
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 28, 2009 at 10:14 am

Interesting. It appears that SEIU and Acorn are very close.

Web Link

It's nice that unionized PA workers want to associate themselves with an organization that promotes tax evasion and prostitution. It's all about the company you keep...

Hilarious.


Posted by former negotiator
a resident of another community
on Sep 28, 2009 at 1:15 pm

I am getting a huge laugh at the comments about this year's SEIU negotiations. The irony of the situation is huge. I was on the management negotiating team twice during the early part of this decade; the best thing I can say about the experience is that it was a frustrating waste of time. The management team spent extensive time looking at the working rules and proposing changes that would have helped streamline the processes and help manage the work, looking for ways to save the city money. SEIU always rejected these changes. They focused exclusively on more pay and more benefits. When the negotiations got tough, when the management team wanted concessions for more $$ and bennies, then the union went public. They started marching, demonstrating and attending Council meetings. The overwhelming public bleeding heart reaction was “Oh my God, these poor city workers, we should treat them better” or “What will happen if there’s a strike? I can’t be inconvenienced.” The message would quickly get to the Council, the Council would direct the city manager and the management team to find a way the keep “Labor Peace” and we would then quickly settle with no concessions to better working rules and always more money and bennies.

Now when times are tough the public reaction is “Oh my God what a bunch of greedy lazy malcontents, they should voluntarily give up money and benefits”. The adage about “Reaping what you sow” is appropriate here. For years the citizens supported and fed the SEIU Garden of Eden and now you don’t like the apples?

Don’t blame the managers and don’t blame the union, ---- look in the mirror.


Posted by fireman
a resident of another community
on Sep 28, 2009 at 1:20 pm

FM, Nail on the head!

The city wastes millions and millins of dollars then cries, Oh and how much did those 2 homes cost CPA. Is the city so TOXIC, unless you give someone a huge amount of money they will not pick CPA to lead?
Then with that huge package they get Fail humans with Failed leadership styles? Oh great


Posted by Strike, Dammit
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 28, 2009 at 4:26 pm

Just strike. I don't care. The SEIU as an organization is going down along with ACORN.

More sunshine, please.


Posted by More Dirt
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 28, 2009 at 4:32 pm

ACORN and SEIU hand-in-hand

Web Link

Have you SEIU members no shame?


Posted by More Dirt
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 28, 2009 at 4:45 pm

Nice that ACORN helped arrange a meeting with SEIU members to lobby Nancy Pelosi.

Web Link

"2:00 pm – Lobbying - Carmen
Speaker Pelosi’s Office, Hart Senate Office Bldg. Lobby Team Leader David Sharples of ACORN: (415) 377-9037; members of UFCW Local 5; Ed Agustus, Children’s Defense Fund. Speaker Pelosi’s staff members Debra Trautman, PHD, RN; Stephanie Adika, legislative assistant. Per staff, the Speaker believes that ins.companies not forthcoming in providing data and projections – relayed info.that CEO of a large ins.co gave different numbers than what was testified to in Commerce Committee Meetings. Speaker Pelosi is working with and listening to healthcare provider organizations (Am.Nurses Assoc.), public health organizations, patient rights groups, medical associations, senior citizen organization, children’s organizations and advocacy groups, employee organizations and civic groups, NOT big business, corporate America. Reform must be focused on outcomes, assured that public option will be in bill. Lobby team stories; UFCW member told his ‘need for reform’ story: At age 30 was diagnosed w/stomach ailment and after $47,000 worth of tests, scans, scopes, remedy was found in $75 screening test for H. Pylori and $40 Rx; unable to obtain Rx under insurance – not covered. ‘ Quality story’ by RN Morales: Quality prevention and chronic care programs will go far in reducing costs – i.e. diabetic education; hospitals should not be paid for diabetic foot amputations unless they have solid foot care and diabetic clinics in place that are accessible, meet professional standards. Ms. Trautman is an RN and “gets it”. Confirmed that continued support from health care workforce, especially nurses by way of being patient advocates is essential for successful reform."


Posted by Truth
a resident of another community
on Sep 28, 2009 at 4:47 pm

Don't forget who else use to work for ACORN! Anyone want to guess? I will give you guy's a hint. The name of this person initials are BHO.


Posted by Lineworker
a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 28, 2009 at 7:21 pm

I Cannot speak for the other departments of the city, but a can put my word in for mine; The Electric utilities department. Most Jobs these days require a B.A. or B.S. in whatever field they choose in life. In my line of work we go through a 4 year state accredited Apprentice program. We go though as much training as someone who is in a University or College. Some of this city's citizens and upper management believe that we are of a lower class almost, when realistically we are no different at our levels of profession.

We Line workers face life and death situations every day. This is in cases that lie within Basic Maintenance work, or even Emergency work. Not only do you belittle us by thinking that we are overpaid, but you don't come to realize that we underpaid in our line of work. Coming from a family that has a business in working on power lines, I have seen this before even stepping foot into the Human Resources department of this city.

We hold 12,000 volts of electricity in our hands, and some think we are overpaid? Maybe you should think about why your lights turn on, or what makes you be able to check your email on your computer. This is all at the sake of our safety and lives. We have one of the 10 most deadly jobs in this world.

And no you cannot find our job on craigslist. Just like a firefighter or even a NASA researcher, we have a very specialized job. To search for a job like ours, one would have to actually search out a utility, like the city of Palo Alto, or PG&E.

All I ask is that some should realize that there are some jobs in this city that do earn their keep. We want what is Fair.


Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 29, 2009 at 3:51 am

"It's nice that unionized PA workers want to associate themselves with an organization that promotes tax evasion and prostitution. It's all about the company you keep..."

It is perhaps "more to the point" illustrative that many of the current city worker/union bashers have allied themselves with the current BASH ACORN bandwagon with glee.

ACORN does good work. Those operatives (if they had been pro-union you'd be calling them "thugs") went into a ton of ACORN offices and were turned out of almost all.

ACORN is not involved in prostitution. ACORN is not involved in tax evasion. ACORN works to get lower income people registered to vote. That is what this is all about. The truth is coming out, after the YouTube frenzy dies down. Meanwhile the anti city worker folks tirade with glee about SEIU/Sal Alinsky/Obama/ACORN...etc.

The symetry is bashing people who are upping the voter rolls among the social class they look down on, and bashing the people who seek to hold onto their wages and benefits.


Posted by Able
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 29, 2009 at 9:17 am

Glad to learn from A Noun that Acorn is really an upstanding organization that's been unfairly tarred by a couple of 20 year old "operatives".

Someone ought to tell The House of Representatives, The Senate, the Census Bureau, Federal housing authorities, The IRS, Bank of America and President Obama - among others - all of whom have disassociated themselves from ACORN in one way or another since these "unfair" news reports have come out.


Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 30, 2009 at 3:23 am

The language of the "Defund Acorn" violates Article 1 on the Constitution...unless it can also be applied to Blackwater, myriad defense contractors, etc.

Web Link

ACORN was the target of Karl Rove via the firing of the Attorney Generals unwilling to go along with bogus voter fraud charges against ACORN. ACORN's real "crime" is that they register poor people to vote.

Despite the video's of some ACORN staffers, ACORN is not involved in any prostitution ring, never committed any documented voter fraud, etc.

ACORN has registered about 2 million people to vote. They may be credited with electing Obama. It is a feather in their cap that they have elicited this reaction. It created a bit of a political tsunami of absurdity and, once looked at in full light, can provide us on the liberal side a way to clean house a bit (not ACORN---though that has some flaws, but the people joining the whipped up hysteria).

The salient point as regards bringing in the "ACORN is an ally of SEIU" angle..is that it fits in with who is really leading the charge against SEIU---the whole "anti-Obama/anti-ACORN/Obama is a Kenyan/Health reform means death panels/I want my country back!/how did a black man get into that office?/deregulation is good/bring back the ghost of Regan and pretend he didn't cause all this/privatize everything/goverment only serves to help the rich get richer.." crowd.


Posted by Able
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 30, 2009 at 5:06 am

Hard to argue with the point that ACORN registered a lot of people to vote. But the problem is that many of these registrations were fraudulent. See for example here: Web Link

But I guess if you "believe", you believe and no facts will change your mind.


Posted by Dried up Nanny
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Sep 30, 2009 at 11:25 am

A Noun wrote: "What "Disappointed" posted was not just "simple emotional arguments". It was a description of the deep burning sense of betrayal many of the city workers must now feel".

What isn't getting through to Union folks, Democrats, ACORN, and all the others pushing a destructive economic and security ideology onto this country is that ALL THE TAXPAYERS, THE PRODUCTIVE PEOPLE OF THIS NATION, feel a "deep burning sense of betrayal" by our own country, countrymen, and "leadership".

California, and now the nation, have voted in class-envy politics, and the result has been a strangling of the geese that lay the eggs. The innovative risk takers who started and grew businesses, many times failing and losing it all before finally succeeding, ie "the rich", can not produce as much, and dare not risk much. This means there are fewer employed, and those employed make less. This means there are fewer taxes being paid, and more people demanding they get to use the money of other people.

So, that means that there simply isn't enough to support the incredible amount of government and union services and benefits that many have been gotten used to having.

Time to wean yourself off the nanny, folks. The nanny is drying up.




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