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Rohnert Park unions take their case to the public

By SAM SCOTT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Rohnert Park public works employees showed up en masse at Tuesday’s City Council meeting in a last-minute attempt to win public support as five months of contract negotiations come to a contentious close.

Union leaders say they’re being asked to shoulder an unfair burden in the city’s attempt to close its budget deficit while administrators escape the same level of pain.

“We gave a lot last year,” electrician Steve Gossage told the council. “We’re giving a lot this year. When does it end? These cuts are really going to hurt.”

Mayor Gina Belforte and City Manager Gabe Gonzalez gave little response to the pleas. Both said they were bound by confidentiality during negotiations, which are set to end Thursday when the council meets in closed session to discuss contracts.

“All I can do is listen,” Beforte said.

In an email last week, Gonzalez wrote that the city’s 15 management and confidential employees, including himself, would have salary and benefits cut by more than 13 percent.

But Jim McIntyre, a city mechanic who heads the Service Employees International Union local, disputed that number, saying those reductions are mostly to perks, not salaries.

Public works employees, meanwhile, are facing a near-certain 11 percent cut in real pay, he said.

In response, the union wants the city to lay off seasonal part-timers, freeze hiring for a year and agree to a two-year contract, he said. He said Tuesday’s turnout at the council meeting was an attempt to win support from the public watching on television and in the audience more than to address the council.

“”We can’t change their minds, but the public can,” he said.

He said he was not optimistic an agreement would be forthcoming Wednesday when negotiators meet with city officials for a final attempt to hammer things out.

By Friday, he said, he expects to be working without a contract under an agreement unilaterally imposed by the city.

Still, he was more optimistic than Angie Smith, president of the 24-member Rohnert Park Employees Association, which represents office workers.

The union met with city leaders earlier Tuesday and got nowhere, she said. She opted not to address council on Tuesday.

“We basically realized we were banging our heads against a wall,” she said.

Earlier this month, the city and its public safety officers union agreed on a contract containing $2.3 million in concessions.





8 Responses to “Rohnert Park unions take their case to the public”

  1. Lagoosta says:

    Regarding dan Delgado’s comment
    That is great for the friendly city to bring in an ax man from southern California who has no city ties and will have another place to put on his resume after he breaks down the employees that have cared for this city for so many years to the point they leave and get replaced by temp services! Just wait till that is all that is left in this city! Then see what kind of service level you will receive……

    Thumb up 10 Thumb down 3

  2. Graeme Wellington says:

    Laws of economics can’t be broken. You get less for less. Rohnert Park’s managers (they are not leaders) want to pay themselves more and pay employees less. Do we need more management? That’s what we’re paying for.

    There’s probably going to be some embarrassing scandal that pushes Gonzalez out soon anyway. We haven’t had a good sex scandal in a while so we’re due.

    Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  3. Dan Delgado says:

    Gonzalez gets my vote for man of the year. I only wish the other cities had someone like him.

    Thumb up 4 Thumb down 12

  4. Lagoosta says:

    SEIU wasn’t asking for a raise! They were not asking for anything more then a fair accross the board cut to get out of the situation…
    Management wouldn’t agree. They did give up something the ability to no longer cash out their leave!!! Now talk about double dipping, oh and how is that not fluff…

    Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  5. Graeme Wellington says:

    The city workers have no choice regarding SEIU membership. The city refuses to recognize or negotiate with any other bargaining unit the employees have tried to organize. So just remember that the city’s leaders forced SEIU upon the workers.

    Our city leaders are not setting the proper example (surprise) and if they did it would go a long way toward reducing the budget. But to reduce the budget to preserve their own salaries? That takes hypocrisy to new levels.

    How come the Press Democrat will sue to get copies of the POA and city contracts, but they are satisfied to take no for an answer when the management contracts are kept secret? How about a story that will really outrage the public? They’ve got managers who get a city car and city credit card AND get a vehicle allowance in their paycheck. You’ve got to cut the flagrant and obvious management abuse of city compensation before you start nickel and diming the guy who is sucking the effluent out of the sewer all day. Mike Rowe deserves a break more than Donald Trump, right?

    Thumb up 16 Thumb down 2

  6. Pearl Alquileres says:

    BAN PUBLIC EMPLOYEE UNIONS!

    …and criminalize any attempt to re-institute them!

    Thumb up 8 Thumb down 25

  7. Fiscal Conservative says:

    Let’s see here…When they raise the inflatable rat and picket in the streets with their SEIU signs asking for more taxpayer defined benifits pensions and holding on to overinflated pay will the public have sympathy?

    I don’t think so. I think joe and Jane taxpayer will be pleased that City Hall is finally doing the same as most families are. More with less.

    I bet alot of this work could be contracted to local taxpaying businesses at a huge savings. Not only that but the unfunded pension contributions go way down.

    I agree with Graeme that cuts need to be fair and across the board. Not to do so is unfair.

    Thumb up 10 Thumb down 16

  8. Graeme Wellington says:

    McIntyre is right on the money again. I’m really liking this guy’s integrity and grit. The power of our local politicians does not belong to them. Their power comes ONLY from the people who elected them.

    This is just the kind hubris that is going ruin Rohnert Park. The leaders are just feathering their own nest and preserving their own position.

    Gossage is also absolutely correct about Pete Callinan valuing the employees and it resulted in extra effort and quality of service being the norm.

    Gonzalez is literally guaranteeing that the citizens of Rohnert Park are going to get the absolute bare minimum and no more out of every employee at every level in every task. So much for the “Friendly City.”

    Across the board all the managers and “confidential employees” out there need to take the exact same cut they foisted on everyone they supposedly “lead.” How can they expect a good example when the leaders set such a bad one.

    And I tell you you are going to be SHOCKED SENSELESS when Sandy Lipitz’ separation deal becomes public. You simply will not believe anyone running a city could or would agree to it. Beyond comprehension. And you’re hammering the little guys who are actually doing the work?

    Remember this at election time Rohnert Parkers. Your city is being led down the tube, not necessarily headed there with proper leadership.

    With every OBIT in the Press Democrat everything that made Rohnert Park special is going, going, gone…

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