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Sonoma County government workers rally for new contract

SEIU 1021 union members Mayra Gallegos and Sindy Fisher, Eligibility Workers with the County of Sonoma, rally in front of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, Tuesday July 31, 2012 in Santa Rosa. (Kent Porter / PD)

By DEREK MOORE & BRETT WILKISON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The largest group of unionized Sonoma County government workers staged a noon-time rally Tuesday that escalated their pushback against pay and benefit cutbacks proposed in contract talks.

The gathering, which drew about 200 workers to the county administration building, was organized by the Service Employees International Union, Local 1021, which represents about half of the county’s 3,500 employees.

The pressures on county spending are especially steep because of lagging revenues and spiraling pension costs that have contributed to reductions in staffing and services.

Among the sticking points in negotiations is the county’s demand that employees accept a 3 percent reduction in total compensation, including salary and benefits.

Protesters wore the union’s familiar purple colors and stickers that read, “Enough. It’s time to get tough.” Many were bused in from around the county to attend the event, which coincided with the Board of Supervisors’ first meeting after a summer break.

Rally participants hit on what they said was an inequity in how proposed cuts would affect managers and rank-and-file workers.

“A three percent cut for someone who is earning between $50,000 and and $60,000 dollars a year is a lot different than for someone who is making $120,000,” said Lisa Maldonado, executive director of the North Bay Labor Council, a labor coalition that includes SEIU Local 1021.

The rally was the union’s first public event aimed at putting pressure on administrators in contract talks underway since April.

Supervisor Shirlee Zane, the board chairwoman, who was inside conducting the board meeting at the time, later in the day acknowledged the union’s point on equity, but added that the effective cut asked of managers may be closer to 5 percent.

“The fairness issue has to do with citizens, too, and our ability to provide services,” Zane said. “That means we have to do some belt tightening. And that’s everybody. That’s the whole county.”

County Administrator Veronica Ferguson, who called the rally a “show of force,” said she welcomed employees’ engagement in their side of the bargaining.

“We want to see our employees at some point expressing their concern and interest in this process,” she said.

There have been 13 bargaining sessions since April 11, according to SEIU.

The county claims the concessions are needed to control rising payroll expenses, including pension costs, which have grown by 400 percent since 2000.

SEIU argues that in the past four years employees have had their wages frozen, taken wage reductions with unpaid time off or been laid off while managers have continued to receive perks such as county-paid deferred compensation and car allowances. Both benefits help to boost managers’ pensions.

Some SEIU supervisors also receive deferred compensation, but at a lower county-paid rate of 0.5 percent. The rate for most managers is 4.5 percent; for county supervisors it is 6 percent.

The union claims the county could save millions by reducing its management ranks.

County data shows that managers make up 14 percent of the county’s total workforce, one percent more than six years ago.

The current staff-to-management ratio is 6.33 to 1, versus 6.81 to 1 six years ago.

Santa Rosa Councilwoman Susan Gorin drew cheers when she told the crowd that the management-to-staff ratio is “absolutely the conversation that needs to happen.”

Gorin is running against fellow councilmember John Sawyer for the 1st District supervisor’s seat and has been endorsed by SEIU.

Olga Farias-Pascal, a lease negotiator and inspector for the county, said she is being laid off Oct. 1 because her job is being outsourced. She’s worked for the county for 34 years.

She said the county needs employees “who are vested in the community, who care about the community.”

SEIU said health care premiums for employees have shot up 51 percent since 2008 and that 30 percent or more of what employees earn in wages now goes to their health care needs. The union claims that hundreds of employees have been forced to drop their dependents from coverage as a result of these cost increases.

Isabel Palocios told the crowd she had to put her two children on a subsidized health care plan this year because her family can’t pay the county’s higher premium costs.

“My husband was laid off, and I can’t afford it,” said Palocios, a senior office assistant in the county’s mental health agency.

The hour-long rally spilled over into the Board of Supervisors’ afternoon public comment session, where about a half-dozen SEIU speakers raised similar points.

Board members listened but did not respond.

Negotiations between the two sides are set to resume today.





44 Responses to “Sonoma County government workers rally for new contract”

  1. Jean Anderson says:

    A picture is worth a thousand words.

    Wouldn’t you just love to have those 2 happy workers on your payroll?

    Better Sonoma County have to deal with these people than a private company.

    Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

  2. R.B.Fish says:

    Get rid of SEIU.Other county residents need easy jobs and why should one person keep same labor job for 30 years. The jobs serve the public and that opportunity should be available to all. Pay a good wage and protect with Federal and State laws and stop the idiot union activities.

    Thumb up 4 Thumb down 6

  3. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Skippy-county employees put their own money into retirement. I don’t know about OJ but that’s old news and doesn’t compare because that’s PRIVATE industry. I guess he deserved the retirement because he was a good football player and they get paid big bucks.

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 6

  4. The Hammer says:

    Cost vs benefit. These people are paid way too much for what the taxpayer gets from them. The economy is forcing a wage correction and they are unwilling to accept or understand this. Many are lucky to have such a high paying job.

    Thumb up 10 Thumb down 9

  5. another county worker says:

    @Skippy

    Just an fyi those who attended the rally WERE NOT on the clock and being paid….our lunch hour had to be used to attend the rally. If we needed additional time to travel to the rally because we work offsite we had to use vacation time.

    Thumb up 10 Thumb down 5

  6. Skippy says:

    “OJ was slime, lost in court and was found liable for the deaths of his ex and her boyfriend and still, no one could touch his retirement.”

    OJ’s NFL retirement account wasn’t filled with IOU’s.
    The States’ and Counties’ are.
    Wonder if that small difference will affect your future?
    Pride and arrogance precede a fall.

    Thumb up 10 Thumb down 7

  7. Marc says:

    It’s impossible to convince a man of something if his paycheck depends on him believing the opposite… Mark Twain

    Thumb up 16 Thumb down 6

  8. Accountable says:

    @Union Guy – Those with MBA’s actually understand financial information. Did you read the SCERA actuarial valuation? In Section 1, ii, the Actuaries stated that “earning the assumed rate of investment return of 7.75% per year (net of expenses) on a market value basis will result in substantial investment losses on the actuarial value of assets in the next few years. Unless offset by future investment gains or other favorable experience, the recognition of the $157.3 losses is expected to have a significant impact on the Association’s future funded percentage and contribution rate requirements.”

    Their Valuation and Review was based on a 7.75% investment return on a market value basis, WHICH WILL NOT HAPPEN. Over the last 6 years the Valuation Investment Return was 4.52%, the Actuarial Investment Return was 4.67%, and the Market Value Investment Return was 2.23%. The Bloomberg website I gave estimates that the median state pension will achieve an annual return of 6.5% in the next 15 years. If the Valuation simply dropped it’s expected returns to 7%, that 77% underfunding drops significantly more.

    Pension finance expert, Girard Miller, states that “the only authoritative references to 80% funding ratios are the federal ERISA and pension protection act provisions which require private-sector pension plans below 80 percent funding to take immediate remedial action!” http://www.governing.com/columns/public-money/col-Pension-Puffery.html. Why don’t you read his article, then, if you have any authoritative references (BESIDES THE PENSION FUND ENTITIES THEMSELVES) to dispute Girard, please give them to me. I’d love to read them.

    By the way, maybe you didn’t read the most current information. A Superior Court judge refused the union’s injunction to halt San Diego’s voter-approved pension reform measure http://www.fresnobee.com/2012/08/02/2932784/editorial-public-pension-reform.html.

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  9. GAJ says:

    @Juvenal.

    Jealousy?

    Hardly, SEIU members are as much a victim of the lies that led to pension inflation as the taxpayer.

    It’s fury, not jealousy.

    Still waiting for the Board of Supervisors to make a statement on the issue by taking a major, (more than 20%), cut to their own pay and elimination of their Pension Plan, (to match what the legislature did to their plan in 1999).

    Being a member of the Board of Supervisors should not be a career.

    Thumb up 22 Thumb down 3

  10. GAJ says:

    Listen to the Unions to get us out of this mess?

    It was listening to Union support of Calpers’ lies in the early 2000′s that got SEIU and the taxpayer into this mess!

    They supported unsustainable pension increases for the elite public safety unions in the hopes it would trickle down to them at “no cost” to the taxpayer.

    Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice…

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  11. Juvenal says:

    To all of you whose hatred of county employees is motivated by jealousy: you could have applied for and been hired for those same jobs–it’s the civil service, a merit system.

    HINT: spelling and grammar are considered important in competing for most if not all county positions.

    Thumb up 12 Thumb down 14

  12. Union Guy says:

    77% funded equals BK? Really? Wow, you should run for auditor with you financial savvy… Wow.

    OJ was slime, lost in court and was found liable for the deaths of his ex and her boyfriend and still, no one could touch his retirement.

    Vallejo and Orange county went BK and they still have their 3% @ 50, 90% retirements. The Orange county decision silidified retiree medical as a vested right that could not be taken away. Sonoma county is about to lose the 4 year old lawsuit by their retirees for changing thier medical. That will suck for the county with all the paybacks, but they were warned.

    You don’t believe it, you don’t want to believe it, you can’t grasp it, but the unions have warned the county to make their payments, don’t make knee jerk reactions and start putting the money away they should have. The county didnt listen. They were warned the NEW medical in 2007 would could $20,000,000 more a year. When all was said and done in 2008, it cost $22,000,000 more a year, ever since. The unions have a vested interest in the county staying solvent. Noy having had a raise in 4 1/4 years, you can’t blame the salaries. We increased our pension payments by 30% to offset the increase in 3@50 and 3@60. The math worked, but the county balked at its payments and got caught behind the crash in 2008.

    They made their bed, knowing the taxpayers were on the hook. The unions are currently working with the county to lower pension costs and medical costs. Will the county listen? I seriously doubt it. When they sit across the table and admit they would rather go with a plan that hurt retirees and cost $20,000,000 more a year because they thought of it and they didn’t think of the cheaper plan so they rejected it, there was little hope.

    BK won’t solve a thing for medical and retirement so you better get on board with the unions who have good working plans that will solve this. But you won’t, any more that the county will… doomed by pride. Too smart for your own good. You have all the answers, just ask you. You know it all, except the fact and the truth. I forgot, my facts are in denial. You didn’t think of it, so you reject it.

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  13. Skippy says:

    bird;
    I find your posts offensive but I don’t whine about them or appeal for civility.
    I did notice the highly educated nature of Liberals last year at the OWS-mob sewerfests. Lots of advanced degrees on display crapping on police cars. Classy and enlightened collegiates all.
    And what’s with the aversion to the term Liberal?
    Only true collectivists call themselves progressives.
    What is wrong with Liberal?
    Are you not proud to be a Liberal?
    I am proud to be a right-wing Conservative militarist, imperialist, colonialist and capitalist member of the NRA.
    So strange how defensive Liberals get when you call them Liberals.
    Maybe because they know what a tiny minority they truly are, and how many millions are opposed to them.

    Thumb up 12 Thumb down 9

  14. bear says:

    Let’s get simple.

    A promise broken is a broken promise.

    If you can remember past 3 1/2 years ago, you can find many examples of republican broken promises. Starting with the federal deficit and unfunded wars.

    Who screwed up the August 6, 2001 intelligence report that warned of 9/11?

    Who created the federal deficit for their own political benefit?

    Anyone who has zero memory beyond 3 1/2 years ago is not eligible to run for any office. Why? Because they’re still little children.

    Thumb up 9 Thumb down 20

  15. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Fiscal Conservative-you’re behind the times. ACORN did nothing wrong. All they did was register people to vote. The county registrars’ offices vet those registration applications for validity not ACORN. Not only that, but they registered Republicans too. No kidding. Because progressives believe all AMERICAN CITIZENS should have the right to vote, unlike the Republicans who want to restrict voting to voters who will vote for them and will do anything legal or illegal to keep the rest of us from the polls.

    Thumb up 10 Thumb down 27

  16. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Skippy-thin skinned much? I didn’t say “shut up” I said be more creative- basicly less mean. There are better ways of getting your opinions across to those of us who you think are dense. Since most progressives keep themselves educated I promise we’ll understand you. We won’t agree with you, however.

    Thumb up 6 Thumb down 18

  17. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Californian-if this country had single payer health care you and your family would be covered fully without deductibles and copays and your boss would be happier too, not having to cover his share. All the government employees would be covered too. Other countries provide BETTER HEALTH CARE that costs them LESS per person with better results than this country. They live longer and their babies are born healthier. They focus on wellcare and healthy living to prevent illnesses. They also make sure that illnesses are caught timely so treatment costs less. This would be cheaper taxwise for all of us and makes sense. It would keep people out of the more expensive ERs for minor care.

    I hate the fact you have to pay so much for your family AND STILL HAVE TO PAY DEDUCTIBLES AND COPAYS. Remember, the “cheap” policies aren’t so cheap because they DON’T REALLY PAY MUCH. If you stay well you pay for the premiums AND the care and the insurances PAYS NOTHING.

    Thumb up 7 Thumb down 15

  18. Californian says:

    Although I sympathize with these workers’ plights, I think some don’t realize they still have it pretty good. I work in a decently compensated job in the private sector, and I pay almost $1000 per month for my family’s coverage as well. The difference is that I pay this for a non Cadillac plan that has a $3000 deductible per person, and a $5000 deductible for the whole family. That means no small co-pays for doctor visits, prescriptions or anything else. All is paid by me at rates contracted by my insurer with the doctor. Essentially, I apparently pay the same as this county worker for a lesser plan. All the percentage of yearly increases in cost are paid by me. Possibly county workers in this scenario might look into higher deductible plans to save money overall. I don’t begrudge any one affordable health coverage, but there is obviously a problem in covering this and rising pension costs. Something has got to give somewhere. I don’t see why I, as a taxpayer, should have to keep paying for the majority of the rises in your healthcare as I must pay for all of mine too.

    Thumb up 19 Thumb down 8

  19. Skippy says:

    “Skippy, I find your last post offensive. There are better ways of being creative.”

    So, in other words, shut up?
    That’s what you’ve got?
    Shut up?
    “Offensive” to a liberal is anything that smells like a fact or that challenges the fantasy-world they inhabit.
    When the PD quits publishing my comments, I will have been silenced.
    I will never “shut up”.
    Try growing a thicker skin, or a spine.
    The Tea Party is here.

    Thumb up 16 Thumb down 12

  20. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Joseph- maybe you haven’t noticed but there are no jobs elsewhere. Workers are leaving the county BECAUSE THEY ARE BEING LAID OFF. The more laid off the bigger hit to the local economy ESPECIALLY if they can’t find a job elsewhere. Some of those being laid off now because of contracting out have 30 or more years with the county and are in specialized positions so they don’t have bumping rights.

    County worker-you are considered rich and are ripping off the public because you work for the government. Doesn’t it hurt to know that people hate you FOR NO REAL REASON AT ALL? Ironically, because their world is better BECAUSE you work for them.

    Bones-you miss the point entirely about management. Correct, we need lawyers and technical expertise in county jobs, BUT even eliminating these out of the 6:1 ratio the county is still top heavy in management.

    Jim- the flat tax is regressive and will hurt the lowest paid the most. The lowest paid do pay other taxes along with FICA taxes so they do support the community. Even the homeless pay a tax on that meal they buy with the money they beg for. Also, you will find that a lot of county employees in the less well paid jobs HAVE COLLEGE DEGREES. They applied for the LESS PAYING GOVERNMENT JOB because they wanted the benefits for their FAMILIES. Ask any of them. It’s the benefits, not the salary, and they want to do public service which should be lauded by the public, not condemned.

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  21. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Skippy, I find your last post offensive. There are better ways of being creative.

    Thumb up 11 Thumb down 15

  22. Fiscal Conservative says:

    It’s hard to have sympathy for those union members and leaders who foolishly borrow
    money to spend on politics. I’m sure the union wants their share from the members.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124243785248026055.html

    SEIU and ACORN will be synonymous with the huge failures of the great recession.

    It is time for Sonoma County to reduce the workforce, reduce the wages and benefits and
    contract out with competitive bidding. Our hardworking, taxpaying, families do not
    support anything less than this.

    Thumb up 16 Thumb down 11

  23. Skippy says:

    The angry faces on well-fed bodies speak volumes.
    Dressed in their Official Mao…um…SEIU shirts, waving signs, shouting and screeching, and all while being paid by you and me.
    These malcontents were on the clock at the time. That’s dedication for you! Obviously they fully understand the meaning of a Big Govt job:

    We are untouchable,
    we will do whatever we want,
    we don’t need to produce anything ever,
    you will pay us more and more and more,
    you will continue to pay us long after we have retired to Palm Springs,
    our retirement will be paid from your paycheck,
    you get diddly-squat, suckers!

    Tear down Big Govt, burn it to ashes and dance in the smoke.

    Thumb up 19 Thumb down 20

  24. Accountable says:

    Fiscal Conservative got their information from the weblink article. Brett’s information comes directly from the independent actuarial study done by The Segal Company http://www.scretire.com/pdf/documents/ActuarialValuation2011.pdf. Read it for yourself. Under the section Significant Issues in This Valuation page 6, the Actuaries are still using the outdated investment return of 7.75% in their study, and even then they indicate that “if the deferred losses were recognized immediately in the valuation value of assets, the funded percentage would decrease from 84.1% to 77.0%”. Under 80% funding is a red flag. The urban myth that “experts say 80% funding is healthy” was clearly debunked by pension finance expert, Girard Miller.

    No independent economist or investment adviser expects a 7.75% return in the next 15 years. CalPERS only made 6.97% return in the last 15 years http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-09-28/calpers-chief-says-7-75-investment-return-may-be-tough-to-meet.html. Financial experts and economists continue to tell CalPERS and other pension fund entities that their future market expectations are unrealistic. I personally believe that these entities simply are perpetrating fraud.

    Over the 12 month time period, employee’s contributions have remained stagnet at 12.1% while the County (taxpayer) contributions increased from 17.1% of payroll to 19.93% of payroll. Those costs to taxpayers are expected to jump by a third next year and go up by millions more each year through 2017. And for the record, County employees (i.e. taxpayers) represent a little more than 1% of the County population.

    State employees are taking a 5% paycut. California Faculty Association has had no increase in 5 years, and just signed a contract with no increase for another 4 years. As a sidebar, professors are more educated than almost anyone working for the County, yet their pay usually resides somewhere in the $90,000/year range. That’s the same amount that the County pays an Administrative Analyst, which doesn’t even require a college education.

    Thumb up 15 Thumb down 5

  25. Jim says:

    @ MOCKINGBIRD…

    Dense? No. I’m a flat tax supporter. I’m a supporter in everyone pays the same for services, in taxes, etc. I don’t believe in punishing those who are successful. So if wages are cut, everyone should face the same cut. Anything different is treating people unequally, which is something the left loves to complain about. Isn’t “fair share” the current rhetoric? Well if everyone pays the EXACT SAME percentage of their income, or faces the EXACT SAME percentage cut, then everyone is paying their fair share.

    I just don’t understand why someone who has made it to a higher income level should face a larger cut in pay. An argument could be made (I’m not making it because I’d rather not go off topic) that the person with the higher income worked harder in school, in their previous position, has more experience, etc and now commands that higher salary. Cutting their pay more than someone else who happens to make a lower salary (for whatever reason) is punishing the success.

    Thumb up 9 Thumb down 13

  26. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Bear, isn’t that what the county is paying per hour for the contractor that’s negotiating workers’ contracts because the manager who was hired to do it, and it’s in the job description, isn’t qualified? So the manager still gets paid and the county pays a contractor to do what the manager should be responsible for at 3x or 4x the price. This is how the county operates. This isn’t the only contracting out because the managers responsible aren’t qualified or competent.

    Thumb up 16 Thumb down 5

  27. Robert Pines says:

    Watching these SEIU public employees earning more in wages and benefits than you and I do whinning about their raises and benefits is something.

    They are lucky to have the jobs they have. They definitely need to go back to work and be thankful they have a job and stop the whinning. It makes them look so foolish in these economic times.

    Thumb up 14 Thumb down 11

  28. county worker says:

    My husband and I have 3 kids. I pay 603.49 out of each check for health and dental. I make 26.85 an hour.My net take home pay each month is 2850.00. My husband makes 12.50 an hour and his net take home is 1800.00. Maybe I should get another job.

    Thumb up 21 Thumb down 2

  29. Joseph says:

    The way you judge if people are being overpaid is to document the unhappy workers and see how many actually leave employment. If no one is leaving their jobs to look elsewhere, then you are overpaying wages and benefits. In layman’s terms If you are not happy with what you are being paid, you know where the door is. At will employment is just that.

    Thumb up 10 Thumb down 12

  30. Bones says:

    It is ridiculous to talk about a standard management to staff ratio! Each department, division, program is different. The County delivers diverse and sometimes complex services. It is not on a Ford auto company assembly line. Maybe some departments, like Public Works, have lots of tasks that “non-management” staff can do. But some County programs require mostly highly skilled and educated staff (like lawyers, analysts) who can keep us in compliance and help us take advantage of evolving programs and policies at the state and national level. Not all programs have a place for someone who hasn’t graduated from college or does not have a graduate degree. Just because they aren’t in a union makes them “management”?? Not all “management” level jobs require that we give this manager 6 or more staff. We just need this highly skilled person to provide us with professional services. Case in point. The CAO’s office has a lot of analysts, and for good reason. These are the folks that check and double check everything that is sent to the Board of Supervisors to consider.

    This call to a standard management to staff ratio makes no sense and the unions are not helping the common good by harping on this ratio. It is true that the County has contracted out some services that would have gone to union line staff. This was to save money for the people of Sonoma County. So shouldn’t that be a good thing? Someone needs to explode the myth of this manager to staff ratio.

    Thumb up 6 Thumb down 18

  31. bear says:

    If you want to contract out County services, I’m available without the need for benefits. My introductory rate is $100/hour. My rate next year will be $250/hour.

    Thumb up 8 Thumb down 18

  32. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Jim, are you being deliberately dense? Maybe Lisa should have said the 3% CUT WOULD HURT SOMEONE worse in the lower pay range because they have LESS LEFTOVER to live on. I think you could have figured out this was what she meant. It’s the same for raises when a percentage method is used. It’s the same when healthcare premiums go up an equal percentage, but when a rank and file worker ends up paying 30% of his take home pay to cover his family they have little left over to live on. Workers get peanuts. Management is better able to absorb the increases.

    Not all public workers are overpaid. But you are right about managers, too many then LAY THEM OFF. The county has too many managers and it’s the BOS’s responsibility to cull them. Less than 6:1 is absolutely RIDICULOUS. Not add more managers at the expense of rank and file which is what they’ve been doing.

    Thumb up 17 Thumb down 11

  33. Jim says:

    “A three percent cut for someone who is earning between $50,000 and and $60,000 dollars a year is a lot different than for someone who is making $120,000,” said Lisa Maldonado, executive director of the North Bay Labor Council, a labor coalition that includes SEIU Local 1021….

    Um, no it isn’t. A 3% cut is a 3% cut. A pound of feathers weighs the same as a pound of rocks….IT IS A FREAKING POUND!

    Just because someone happens to earn more doesn’t mean they should be burdened with carrying a larger burden. I know this is how the tax code works but that isn’t how wage cuts should work.

    As for managers making more, getting extra benefits, etc…that’s an easy problem to solve. Lay….them….off. There are FAR TOO MANY government workers as it is, and most, if not all, are overpaid. “Over the last four years” (the time frame used in the story) MANY people in the private sector have lost jobs. That equates to a 100% pay cut. Yet these government workers are complaining about slight cuts and “frozen” salaries. Give me a break.

    I recommend laying off ALL the workers and using the free market system to refill them, at going wages, not union forced wages.

    Thumb up 24 Thumb down 16

  34. Fiscal Conservative says:

    $1.87 Billion in County pension debt and they want more?

    I say lay off 2/3 of the County employees. The work can better be performed by the private sector with competitive bidding and NO PENSION DEBT.

    http://www.publicpurpose.com/pp-pvtza.htm

    Private sector firms PERFORM the work for less cost, avoid excuses and don’t protest with their unions in front of the hand that feeds them.

    Thumb up 25 Thumb down 16

  35. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    I just love Shirley Zane’s quote about all being in this together. To start with our BOS are paid more than any other counties’ BOS in Calif since our BOS salaries are tied to the judges increases and not averaged with like counties. They need to cut theirs to be more equitable with other counties’ BOS.
    When I volunteered for her campaign during her first run for office I asked her about contracting out and she said she was TOTALLY AGAINST CONTRACTING OUT OF COUNTY JOBS. Now, after 2 years, I see she isn’t. She has also approved new management positions when she knew the ratio of managers to rank and file was unacceptably low (6:1) and new RECENT layoff slips going to rank and file staff with jobs going to contractors. Olga being mentioned in the article is just one of them. Shirley did NOT get my support this last campaign. Laying off excellent rank and file staff who serve the community is NOT the way to save the county money or service the public. She needs to focus on getting rid of AT LEAST 44 management positions to bring the ratio back into line with an acceptable ratio. The public shouldn’t stand for any of this either.

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  36. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Doodles-I don’t know who you’re talking to, probably a manager, but you are just plain WRONG. The managers have NOT picked up the extra work. The extra work is distributed between the remaining rank and file OR JUST NOT DONE. And if a manager needs to pick up the work, THEN THE COUNTY NEEDS TO HIRE A FRONTLINE EMPLOYEE AND LAYOFF THE MANAGER, because he is way overpaid.
    As for overtime, the county does not allow overtime, no matter the caseload, for the rank and file except for safety employees and a few others like emergency road crews. THAT’S IT. Lots of rank and file would like overtime but can’t get it. Granted there are great managers who work their fannies off but there are other managers who walk around doing NOTHING and don’t seem to be at their desk. As for the amount paid to a manager being less than some rank and file doing overtime, that’s a fallacy too. Do you have any concept how much managers get paid? A rank and file making $25.50 on a road crew working a extra 8 hours a week makes $306. Add that to the base salary and that equals $1326 per week, $68952 per year. NOWHERE NEAR the $100,000 including the 5% deferred comp (THAT’S $5,000 more per year) and all the other perks a typical middle manager makes.
    The manager you talked to is giving you a song and dance or you are making it up.

    That $68952 sounds like a lot but county employees pay 12% into their pension fund, healthcare costs take 30% of their paycheck if they have a family (that’s something like $1200), and they pay into social security along with all the other deductions, the actual takehome is not surprisingly SMALL.

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  37. R.B.Fish says:

    Get rid of unions.

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  38. Shepard says:

    @Doodles, nice, accurate information, all second hand…..hm, should I believe you? Should I believe the PD? Here, if you have the wherewithal, take a look at these MOU’s (also known as a CONTRACT) and Salary Resolutions that every County employee is bound to, management and line staff alike.
    http://hr.sonoma-county.org/content.aspx?sid=1024&id=1215
    This is all public information.

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  39. Doodles says:

    I know people who work for the county and the “managers” (plural) do not get car allowances—those go to heads of departments. And, when staff get cut, the managers pick up a lot of the work because the unions scream if a staff person does something not in their job description. So managers work longer hours but they do not get overtime pay, the SEIU staff get paid overtime). So, managers end up making less money per hour than the staff they supervise. And don’t think this is not thought out by execs—-managers end up being cheaper by the hour. One friend told me she was asked to volunteer her time in another department so they wouldn’t have to hire people! Unbelievable. The reality is there are hard workers and do-nothings in both rank-and-file and management. Looking to blame one group to save your own hide is not the answer. The truth always lies somewhere in the middle.The harsh reality is that something has to be done about deficits and everyone has to be part of the solution, but the public had better get ready—-careful what you wish for; lower wages and fewer county staff will affect the amount and quality of service you get.

    Oh, and Olga’s job may be getting cut but she will not get “laid off;” she’ll retire with 34 years service and will be crying all the way to the bank. She is able to retire at 90% of her salary and will benefit from all the spiking everyone is upset about. Nice job, PD, hyping a story without giving balanced information that helps everyone understand the issues rather than fanning flames.

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  40. GAJ says:

    When I ran my company we started from the top down to the middle, starting with me.

    We never got to the line workers as they were our face to the customer.

    You always try to minimize the impact on the customer…if you’re smart!

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  41. Brian Enright says:

    I agree with these workers. Just like I have seen in the private sector, the managers and high salaried executives keep making obscene salaries while the little guy gets screwed. And as a taxpayer it really bugs me to be paying a six figure salary to so many managers who are basically answering the phones of the workers who got laid off. Supervisors need to start from the top and get rid of so many extra directors and administrators. These ratios tell you where the fat is. Cut it!

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  42. Reality Check says:

    Too bad the article doesn’t identify the split between salary & benefits in the proposed 3% pay reduction. If public employees resist pension and benefit cuts, and they have, paycheck cuts come next.

    And while management and supervisors have no shame in the perks and bonuses they award themselves, it doesn’t change the budget picture much. Still, they should have gone first.

    Bottom line, absent a new pot of money, the county has to bring employee costs in line with budget realities. Since pension and benefit costs are out of control and out of line with revenue growth, they should start there first.

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  43. county worker says:

    In my department there is a supervisor for every 1 to 2 line staff. There is a Manager for every 2-3 supervisors. The line staff are the ones who keep getting cut and the workload dumped on the remaining line staff not the managers or supervisors.

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  44. GAJ says:

    Was this rally held in front of the Police and Fire Stations?

    That’s who’s eating SEIU’s lunch…thanks to Michael Allen and his ilk.

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