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Hundreds sign petitions asking city to re-open employees' union contract

Original post made on Jan 17, 2011

She's back. Former City Councilwoman Kay Ayala, who successfully led a citizens' coalition effort to block the 51-home Oak Grove development last year in Pleasanton's southeast hills, has joined businessman Bart Hughes and others in asking the city government to re-open negotiations on an employees' union contract set to be signed on Feb. 1.


Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, January 17, 2011, 7:59 AM

Comments (72)

Posted by Concerned Californian, a resident of Valley Trails
on Jan 17, 2011 at 8:09 am

Gub'mint employees are beginning to realize that a taxpaying public who faces wage cuts and market fluctuations are getting pretty sick and tired of subsidizing their overpaid lifestyles and retirement packages equal to a $2-3 million dollar annuity. It's unsustainable and time to end. When even the liberal San Francisco Board of Supervisors thinks employee pay pensions are ridiculous, they're ridiculous. It's amazing it's taken people this long to wake up!


Posted by b, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2011 at 8:42 am

Well lookit that. Kay Ayala looking out for the little people again. Her last initiative was supposed to protect us and instead has cost us millions. I've already listed many reasons why Bart/Kay's pension plans are likely to backfire. This one's ultimately going to cost us far more than it saves, too. Mark my words. Nothing with her name attached is a bargain, my friends.


Posted by two cents, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2011 at 8:51 am

"This one's ultimately going to cost us far more than it saves, too"

Prove it b. Bart backs everything he says up with detail and numbers and he doesn't get personal.

Can we ask you to do the same?

I can't see a single thing wrong with what he's pointed out. Our general fund spending on pension contributions has got out of control since a mistake was made 2002, diverting enormous amounts of taxpayer dollars from the general fund. We also now have an unfunded pension liability in the hundreds of millions of dollars.



Posted by two cents, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2011 at 8:57 am

And by the way I didn't agree with Kay blocking Oak Grove either, but do agree the pension situation needs to be addressed. It is possible to agree with some things people do but not others.

Though I can see why it is convenient for you to try to merge the two together in people's minds even though they are completely unrelated.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2011 at 9:20 am

"This one's ultimately going to cost us far more than it saves, too. "

How? Pensions are out of control and many cities are going/have gone bankrupt because of them - think Vallejo.

I agree with this effort even though I did not agree with the anti-Oak Grove one.

I will support Kay and Bart on this one, and I hope the council and the mayor are listening.


Posted by questions, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2011 at 9:33 am

"At least one person on the council has said they've been told that the contract was negotiated in good faith and that they can't go back on that," Ayala said."

What am I missing here? The proposed contract hasn't been approved by the council so it is nothing more than paper at this point. This sounds like something that came from the union via a council members voice. With off the record negotiations, closed session negotiations, the secrecy provided by the Brown Act, it now sounds like even the presentation of the contract and its approval - even the open forum for its discussion, is a farce. Where does the taxpayers voice fit into all of this protect the union/contracts?

Seems to me this is really a contract between the taxpayers and the PCEA, but the taxpayers have been muted. Why? And who actually made the claim "the contract was negotiated in good faith and that they can't go back on that." I would like to know.


Posted by MainStreetDiva, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jan 17, 2011 at 10:17 am

MainStreetDiva is a registered user.

Where can I sign the petition?!


Posted by Lugnut, a resident of Carriage Gardens
on Jan 17, 2011 at 10:28 am

I really do not think the City is hiding anything and I also believe the contract with PCEA is good. I believe the council should ratify the contract and also work on the Pension issue in a non emotional and factual manner. I would propose a "Working Group" evaluate the problems with Pensions, find out the causes are in again a factual, unemotional and transparent manner, what might be the best options both pro and con and then bring those recommendations back to the council to act on. People do not gained success in business by relying on one source for information, act emotionally when faced with a decision. "Knee-jerk" reactions are not productive.
I for one do not believe Pensions have been the sole cause of bankrupt cities. I believe Wall Street and the Dot Com Bust caused our economy to fail. I believe these failed cities spent money in areas they should not have instead of saving for the "Rainey Day" like Pleasanton did.
I believe in history telling you what is ahead. Look back 30 years, have Pensions ever been a problem. Bart and now Ayala want you to believe that Pensions are solely funded by tax dollars. Not true, 75% is by Cal Pers investment and 25% by taxpayer money. Cal Pers lost money like everybody but made back over $11 billion recently.
You are playing with people's lives here. People who have negotiated fairly, given things up to get things which is not reported about enough. No pay raises, no spots rehired leaving more work for them to do. They have and are sacrificing like the Private Sector.
Know both sides before acting. ...and Bart, I do not believe the City Manager or the Council would do anything that is illegal or without a lot of thought. We are in the Black, have a ton of money in reserves and can weather this. I also believe the employees are cognizant of the issues and want to help. They have ideas, go ask them without Ayala spewing poison into your ear.


Posted by Bruce, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Jan 17, 2011 at 10:34 am

I would like to sign it also. I want the council to change retirement age to be the same as social security and have reduction in benefits for early retirement. If you give someone 80 % of their wages at age 50, they will end up getting more retirement than they ever made working. Just plain STUPID for taxpayers to support that.


Posted by b, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2011 at 10:48 am

I can make up meaningless statistics, too. It may buy me a few supporters, but it doesn't solve real world problems. I prefer to speak from experience (managing real organizations) and plain old fashioned common sense.

Look, I get that you want blood. It feels good to get worked up and demand massive change. That's kay's style, too. But there are always consequences. In her case, they tend to be big and expensive.

In this case, if you tie the city's hands by saying that they must make xx% cuts, and it is permanent for the next 10 years, there is a very real risk that the city no longer becomes a competitive employer when the job market improves. One potential consequence is then that you must outsource services to private contractors because you cant hire employees at market terms. Other consequences could be strikes, lawsuits, slowdowns, etc--that's what tends to happen after Kay's projects. And they're always expensive for us taxpayers.


Not too many middle class workers can swallow 10% drops in comp--forcing workers to pay even 2% will be a stretch for some already struggling workers.

The best change is gradual. Make adjustments based on market conditions and negotiations with counterparties, then see what happens. Then make more adjustments. Pretty soon you get to the same result, but with fewer "unintended" consequences. That's just good management, and I'm very pleased to see the city leadership making gradual changes of course in the right direction.


Posted by b, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2011 at 11:02 am

Very well said, Lugnut. Reform is needed. Just not in this blood-thirsty way.

In the old days, big corporations used to offer lifetime employment and generous pensions. Of course, we gradually moved away from that, which is fine. It makes the corporate financials look better and the companies are more sustainable in the long run.

But there are consequences, too. There's a real and growing problem of baby boomers who didn't save enough or invest properly. They used to exit the job market at 55 with generous pensions, but are starting to need to stay in the job market for years and sometimes decades. But the job market isn't growing.

There's a very real cost to that. It just doesn't show up tidily on corporate financials.

This will be exacerbated by the same switchover in the public sector. It NEEDS to happen, but massively pulling out the rug will have much greater impact on the job market, social services, younger generations, etc than if we adjust gradually ( as happened in the private sector)


Posted by Bart Hughes, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2011 at 11:46 am

I understand that real people's lives are at stake here and the vital role that public employees play in our community. This is why I have never suggested that employees pick up all their pension contributions all in one year. It is not feasible and would put too much hardship on employees.

But to vote for a contract that continues to put the majority of financial responsibility on taxpayers and does not have a reasonable path for dealing with our unfunded liability is irresponsible. A 2% employee contribution rate will cover less than 50% of the incremental costs over the next two years. We will be 10 years out from the 2002 pension mistake and we still won't have a viable solution. The longer we let this go, the more future generations will have to pick up the cost.

We all want a fair and equitable solution to the problem so we can move on to other important issues facing our community. It would be great to see the union come back with a revised contract that includes the two-tier approach and bumps up the employee contribution a bit (to at least pick up 50% of the incremental costs over the next two years).

But I understand that this is not likely as they are asking for something in return. This is unfortunate as they seem to forget that we gave them a lot in 2002 (35% pension bump, 41% salary increase, etc.). It seems at though it is a one-way street with public employee unions. If you do care about the future of our great city, prove it with your actions.


Posted by it is hopeless, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2011 at 11:55 am

The pension problems mainly started when the city offered a much more lucrative pension system to the employees and said it would not cost anything.

The city increased the pension benefits by 35% (not to mention doing it retroactively). So that alone added 35% to the pension cost for the taxpayers since the employees do not pay a cent into the pension system.

The city has known about this serious underfunding for 6 years or so but they were in a 8-year contract so there was nothing they could do, except for plan for the new contract. However, they really did nothing and are allowing the problem to continue for another two years while we get further into debt. We need to take care of the problem now and not wait two years.

"work on the Pension issue in a non emotional and factual manner." - Absolutely! But you do this before signing a contract; not after!

"b", what statistics are being made up here? The City Manager made a presentation to the Chamber of Commerce recently and showed slides supporting what Bart has said. One slide showed our PERS costs being 3.72% of the General Fund Budget in 2001 and now is at 14.60%. That does not even include retiree medical and employee medical costs. Our tax revenue has not shot up like that so that means that services had to be reduced to balance the budget (unless the city is acknowledging that we had that much waste before and it is now gone). Actually the budget is not balanced since we are not even paying the full costs of the benefits now. The slide shown at the Chamber of Commerce also had "Total Unfunded Liability" at $289.98M. I was shocked to see that large of a number and it came right from the City. So "b", are you saying the City Manager is making up stuff now?


Posted by two cents, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2011 at 12:23 pm

"No pay raises"

Please prove this. In the document I saw there have been 4-5% salary increases every year since 2002.


Posted by Concerned, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2011 at 12:52 pm

We need an open discussion to go over all the numbers. In NJ policemen and firemen pay 8.5% of their salaries for their pensions, in Oakland a 9% fee is under discussion. Municipal bond sales are failing. All you have to do is look at the trends from 2002-now and you can see we are in a death spiral. Bart has put ogether all the numbers. The city and the taxpayers are paying from 28-41% of the salaries for the pensions and medical benefits. This cannot go on.Bart has been very reasonable coming up eith a gradual plan. If the total costs to the city exceed a critical level the whole thing falls apart. It is already very late and the more we procrastinate the worse it gets.


Posted by b, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2011 at 1:11 pm

I didn't say the statistics were made up. I said they were meaningless. That's VERY different. Bart claims that CalPERS and CoP assumptions about investments are too optimistic, then proceeds to present a bunch of numbers that use artificially misleading timeframes, in addition to a bunch of his own assumptions about the labor market, future investment returns and a whole host of other things. Similarly, I can cite investment returns on different timeframes that look far better than his numbers, stats about salaries, the consequences of the elimination of pensions in the private sector, the correlation between law enforcement compensation and crime rates, and on and on. The point is that you can find statistics to prove any viewpoint, if you look hard enough. That's what politicians do.

Of course we want to get the same service for less money. That's the American way. I can't agree more. I'm merely trying to start a dialogue about the consequences--because that's what the City is ACTUALLY dealing with, and the reason they probably didn't come back with a larger contribution from staff.

If you get a $25k car for $23k, did you get a good deal? Probably. If you buy a $20k car instead of a $25k car, are your better off? In the short run, absolutely. In the long run, maybe still a great financial decision. Bought a $4k used car instead of that new Camry? Better budget for a few repairs.

Of course, those are extreme examples. But the analogy applies. We need to be good consumers and make sure we think through ALL the long-term consequences, not just the most obvious ones. For my part, the more I read Bart's posts (and now see he's working with Ayala), and continue to see no consideration of any issue except price, the more I realize that this initiative (via tying the City's hands) will ultimately be harmful.


Posted by b, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2011 at 1:26 pm

...and I have yet to see any "statistics" that prove the city is ACTUALLY endangered by the current course. You're hiding behind a wall of carefully chosen statistics, but the elephant in the room is that there isn't actually a crisis, and your entire initiative is based on artificially dire ASSUMPTIONS that aren't actually supported by reality.

On the contrary, it appears that Pleasanton has weathered the worst of the financial storm just fine, and can actually afford to offer premium compensation and benefits in order to attract premium employees.

We'd be even better off if we weren't blowing millions fighting lawsuits over the previous "citizen initatives".

Go ahead, prove me wrong.


Posted by two cents, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2011 at 1:46 pm

I believe that if we've gone from paying 1% of our general fund towards pensions in 2002 to more than 20% now, that's a pretty strong statistic that we have a problem which is escalating and will soon be out of control. Salaries going up by more than 40% in the same time period also demonstrates something is out of control and it hasn't happened gradually.

And people retiring at 50 or 55 is just completely untenable and unreasonable for private sector workers, who will be supporting their health and nearly (or more than) 100% final wage from this age for the rest of their lives. We pay even if they're double dipping because anyone can work at that age, it's certainly not old.

And the escalation in general fund costs / taxpayer costs is anything but gradual.


Posted by it is hopeless, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2011 at 2:05 pm

It is hard to predict the future.

In 2002, the employee union said they should get a much higher pensions payout and a significant raise because the most recent past economy was terrific and revenues were coming in high and stock market investments pay for all of the pensions where nobody has to even pay for a pension; just take the money the city put into the city in the past and you can stop as the market will take care of the rest. But the city made a contract decision based on the past.

Now that it is 8 years later, we can look at the last 8 years, and even the last few years. We need to bring things back in. Even if the market goes to DOW 25,000 (like CalPERS said it would), we still are mounting debt at an alarming rate and the city has said it has a hiring freeze and is charging more for services.

Everybody out there is saying the current system is unsustainable. Even our current Democratic Governor (as part of his inauguration speech) and the Democratic Governor who increased the pensions in the late-90's, early-00's. Our mayor, and the neighboring neighbor mayors at a previous Tri-Valley Mayor's Lunch said that the system is unsustainable and had to be fixed (except for Danville which did not offer the retirement system to their employees), the local Chamber of Commerce, and the City Manager has said it is unsustainable. The taxpayers say the same thing. The only people who say that everything is fine is, guess... the employees that are getting the unsustainable benefits. I'm shocked!

While some can overreact to the situation (although that is pretty hard to do now) most are saying we need to have something that is fair for the taxpayers in addition to the employees. If the employees feel the current system is fair and do not come to the table, then they deserve what happens to them. They can be part of the solution or they can live with the outcome. We should be ashamed at the debt we are leaving for our children at the fed, state, and local level. At least at the local level we have some influence so that is why are are working on it.


Posted by Hmmmm, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Jan 17, 2011 at 2:18 pm

"it is hopeless"

Thank you for that! I appreciate your efforts in suppoerting taxpayer concerns; my concerns.


Posted by Concerned, a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Jan 17, 2011 at 3:08 pm

b,

YOur nuts.

This city will never have trouble attracting employees.
We are not in a recession. IT IS A DEPRESSION.
Unemployment rates of over 12%!

Run an add for a dog catcher in this town and you'll get a thousand well qualified applicants.


Posted by No pennies left for our retirements, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2011 at 3:08 pm

Yes Concerned, you are right about CA municipal bonds (which the state needs to bring in operating $$). On a Sunday finance show, yesterdaym the host said CA was number 1 in the GAP between $$ coming in to the state, and $$ going OUT ! 21 % , AZ was second jumping down to 17 %. CA is a big difference in gap with all the other states. Why would people invest here ? People out of jobs, plus retirees are saying WHY stay here. Only fools would sit here with our thumbs in our ears, just paying and paying to support the royal class of public employees ! They honestly believe we owe them more than we owe our children in our families. We have obligations to them, that we cannot meet. Yet, those arrogant, self-centered, greedy, royality believe they are 'entitled' and we should tell our kids no to college, no to any parental help, no to our senior savings (we don't have retirements unless we have some pennies left to save....But,.our unemployment and furlough paychecks,can't do it all. Sadly, we're not 'free' to choose where our leftover pennies should go. We are hostages to public employee unions. SHAME !


Posted by b, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2011 at 4:10 pm

We're in the midst of a depression? And yet the city has a balanced budget and healthy reserves. Geez, unless the city gets bankrupted by all the lawsuits over Kay's initiatives, we'll be swimming in cash when this economy turns around. Our hard-working employees are the least of our concerns.


Posted by to b, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2011 at 4:15 pm

"Our hard-working employees are the least of our concerns."

Plenty of people work hard and don't retire at 50 or 55. It is totally unequal.


Posted by Paul, a resident of another community
on Jan 17, 2011 at 6:42 pm

You citizen of Pleasanton make me sick. Pleasanton citizen are always known for their complaining. I live in Hayward and most of us here would die to be able to live in a city like Pleasanton. It's kept up great, parks are beautiful, streets are clean and crime is nothing. Why is it that way? The CITY WORKERS make it that way. We have city workers here that don't keep our city like yours. You guys should be lucky for what you have.


Posted by to Paul, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2011 at 6:48 pm

"We have city workers here that don't keep our city like yours."

Why don't you employ people who will do the job properly. 13% unemployed out there who I imagine would love a public sector job . .


Posted by P, a resident of another community
on Jan 17, 2011 at 6:54 pm

Even with the raises we have recieved over the past 8 years, I'm still not making anywhere near what the "private sector" makes. The same job I do for the city would be making $35.00 - $50.00 an hour in the private sector. I make under $30.00. The reason why we choose to work for the city and make a little less is because its a stable job. The city pays these beneifts is because they don't pay top dollar for the job itself. If you can afford to live in this city, you're doing fine. I can't afford to live here on what the city pays me and yet I still do my best to make it a great place for "you guys" to live in.

For all of those who say we can retire at 55, you're right, that's what it says. Sorry to burst your bubble but most of us can't retire at 55. I know for me and a lot of others, I'll have to stay till 65. Making under 60k a year is not living large.


Posted by Paul, a resident of another community
on Jan 17, 2011 at 6:58 pm

I'm not the one who hires people here in Hayward, I'm just a regular citizen. Our city is like that because of finacial problems (i assume). You guys live the good life over on the other side of the hill.


Posted by to Paul, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2011 at 7:25 pm

So you're not happy that your city has financial problems and services are being reduced.

Please then try to see why we're trying to fix the problem here before it gets to that kind of outcome.


Posted by P, a resident of another community
on Jan 17, 2011 at 7:35 pm

I also want to know why none of you people are complaining about the firefighters or police officers. They get to retire at 50 and get 3%. With the salaries they get and all the overtime, they are the ones that are part of the problem. You citizens don't talk about them because you need them to protect your million dollar homes and your gas guzzling SUVs from being broken into. They are the problem so GO AFTER THEM as well.


Posted by Hmmmm, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Jan 17, 2011 at 7:48 pm

""Geez, unless the city gets bankrupted by all the lawsuits over Kay's initiatives, we'll be swimming in cash when this economy turns around."

The may be true for the employees but the city will be swimming around debt. Even if Pleasanton applied the 25 million in reserves toward the unfunded employee pension liability, the city would have ZERO reserves and a 265 million debt owed to those same city employees. That is beyond crazy, but the unions want to convince us that it isn't really a problem. I guess that's why the state, county, city and local politics are so screwed up.


Posted by John, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2011 at 9:00 pm

How is this possible that Kay be allowed to drag the city through another initiative while her last one has put us $1 million in the hole. Where is the outrage over this wasteful action by one citizen? THIS is why I do not trust Bart or anything Kay backs. Mark my word, next will be the schools she will be attacking.

As for the "depression", the market rebound has been phenomenal in the past two years. 70% of what was lost is back, and is at a two year high. Big business is doing great- talk about a group who cut the waste! How many private sector jobs were not needed and positions cut permanently made all the difference. As for the lack of jobs- where is the outrage towards these very companies who are now hiring overseas instead of keeping overpaid, perked, private sector workers.

No, it's more productive to attack those public servants who you feel righteous domination over. If you feel wronged by your lack of salary and employment, what in you wants the same for your neighbor?


Posted by W.E., a resident of Kottinger Ranch
on Jan 17, 2011 at 9:08 pm

I'm not a city employee or know a single one, but keep attacking them and see what your city can really turn into.


Posted by Bob Byrd, a resident of Downtown
on Jan 17, 2011 at 9:32 pm

Let's look at both:

(a) PENSIONS

and

(b) HEALTH INSURANCE for retirees and their spouses

If City employees get to retire at age 50 and 55, not only with the too generous pensions calculated by Bart Hughes, but ALSO with the City paying medical benefits for the rest of the employees' lives for the worker and their spouse.

Has the City added up how much that costs?

Let's make sure the City Council makes City employees work to 65 like the rest of us taxpayers.


Posted by it is hopeless, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2011 at 9:42 pm

"I'm not a city employee or know a single one, but keep attacking them and see what your city can really turn into."

The answer: financially stable and running in the black and receiving the same service level we received in 2002 before the excessive increases took place.

"As for the "depression", the market rebound has been phenomenal in the past two years. 70% of what was lost is back, and is at a two year high. "

Even with the rebound we have unfunded liabilities of $290M and are cutting jobs and raising fees. That shows you it was not just the market that is the cause for our problems. It is the unsustainable benefits the employees have.

Here is what Gray Davis (the Governor who gave us the high pensions) said in 2010:

Davis said the financial assumptions that led to him signing massive increases in state worker pensions were wrong and should be undone. "The evidence seemed to suggest the state was wealthy enough to afford it," he said. "It was part ideology and part math, and the point is the math was wrong, big-time. "Pension reform is essential. You just can't afford the benefits that have been promised because all the actuarial studies turned out to be wildly optimistic," he said

Even Willie Brown, one of the biggest supporters of unions said in 2010:

"The deal used to be that civil servants were paid less than private-sector workers in exchange for an understanding that they had job security for life. But we politicians, pushed by our friends in labor, gradually expanded pay and benefits to private-sector levels while keeping the job protections and layering on incredibly generous retirement packages that pay ex-workers almost as much as current workers."


Posted by to W.E., a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2011 at 10:23 pm

"I'm not a city employee or know a single one, but keep attacking them and see what your city can really turn into."

Ummmm . . . the envy of California and many other states?


Posted by to W.E., a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2011 at 10:32 pm

And just to slightly clarify my response above, I don't agree that anyone is "attacking", that's the wrong word entirely, but we are challenging status quo and I think that needs to be done.


Posted by walmartBLART, a resident of Foothill Knolls
on Jan 18, 2011 at 8:49 am

I agree the pension system needs reform, but are you really going to put Kay Ayala on the front lines as a spokeswomen for the citizens! Backfire, she couldn't even garner enough votes for city council and I would never sign a petition associated with her name, she has done more harm than good for this city. Blart you may want to re-think who you want speaking out on this topic!


Posted by it is hopeless, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2011 at 9:03 am

There seem to be many people spearheading this reform. While Kay is not the spokesperson for this topic, I believe Bart is, don't discount her. Every initiative she helped get on the ballot won, and by a large margin. The community needs people like her to stand up to the council. Most of us feel "it is hopeless" and give up fighting city hall. Kay seems to have the energy to help the residents on issues.

But, whoever the spokesperson is, let's not shoot the messenger(s). We should keep personalities out of this and concentrate on the issue. In my experience, people who shoot down the messenger usually do so as they do not have a good argument against the issue.


Posted by Lugnut, a resident of Charter Oaks
on Jan 18, 2011 at 9:44 am

The Pension system will be reformed. I still suggest that a committee be formed, study the pension problem in detail-really understand the issues unemotionally and make your recommendations to a council that will have to act. If that does not happen, then bring out "Nasty Kaye" Ayala and let's get "Ready to Rumble!". Having lived here 30 years, I am confident if we get the facts and then form options for correcting the situation then we would have carefully done it "Once" and in the right way as we will have two more contracts to deal with when police and fire come due. Don't do it in hasty emotional fashion, do it methodically with the facts at hand. Also I believe you should include representatives from the bargaining groups in this process as they are brighter than some of you Private Sector "elitists" think they are. They are not dumb people who had no options but to go to work in the Public Sector. They chose to serve. Many have degrees in the varied fields that they work.


Posted by No pennies left for our retirements, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2011 at 9:44 am

We're not talking much about 'pay', even tho it is excessive and manipulated....and there should be minimum year requirements for chief...not just passing thru to get 'chief level pay. The obscene abuses are in retirements. As our lifespans get longer, people CAN work longer, and DO live longer than years past. IF safety wants to keep retiring at 50, it should only be an 'option' AT REDUCED retirement benefits...certainly not the full golden parachute, with all the tassles. Full retirement should be 65 or 62.....msybe 60 if proper negotiations included adjusted medical,major contributions and much greater CO-pays while working and definitely during retirement.. .Of course NEW employee adjustments I just listed above, MUST be now. That alone would not change anything now, and is non-negotiable. There is NO defense otherwise. Doing so is expected...NOT to be negoiated for retiremnt sanity. Neither NEW hires, nor retirements can be negotiated away. It's past time. Party's over.. back to reality


Posted by No pennies left for our retirements, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2011 at 9:59 am

Hey Lugnut, Nobody ever said they were dumb. They brillantly conned and out-manipulated every council, supervisor, negotiator, again and again. They were smart enough to know they didn't want to get out on the front lines, fighting to keep a job, paying their own way in 401Ks...better to forfeit things like personal ethics, pride, and fairness, for mob mentality greed.


Posted by it is hopeless, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2011 at 10:30 am

Lugnut, it seems you are on the same page that we should put the contract on hold and do a rational study with a committee and then do a contract.

Signing a contract now is saying "let's get ready to rumble".

It is a choice now with the council and the unions. If they both decide to put the contract on hold, have this committee and work on the issue, with a reasonable completion date (e.g., May 1), and then work on the contract, we are on the same page. If they go ahead on signing a contract without input from the taxpayers, they are saying that the taxpayers have no option to do an initiative.

The only things in the contract that affect current employees have a start date of July 1 so there is no harm in putting the committee together and come up with solutions by May. If the contract is signed now, the citizens will have to start collecting signatures right away and the unions will have created a confrontation.

It is in the hands of the union now to put the contract on hold and allow a committee to convene.


Posted by two cents, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2011 at 11:03 am

"Lugnut, it seems you are on the same page that we should put the contract on hold and do a rational study with a committee and then do a contract."


I agree with both of you - sounds like everyone is on the same page. Put the contract on hold until proper discussions have been held. Signing a two year contract before this has happened is not right for anyone.


Posted by it is hopeless, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2011 at 11:51 am

I just found this article at the San Jose Mercury News where other cities are doing something about pensions:

Web Link

The Campbell City Council meeting on Tuesday not only marked the first official assembly of the city's new council, but also an impressive first for the city.

At its first meeting of 2011, the council unanimously authorized an amendment to a contract between Campbell and the California Public Employees' Retirement System that makes Campbell the first in Santa Clara County to agree to a lower-cost pension system for new employees.

A civil grand jury report last year rapped soaring costs for government employee salaries and benefits that it said are crippling city finances and eroding public services throughout Santa Clara County. City managers from around Santa Clara County and San Mateo County at the time had already agreed on a joint policy statement that recommends all cities adopt a lower "tier" pension for new hires. Palo Alto has implemented a second tier for some new workers.

San Jose will begin negotiating a similar "second-tier" retirement benefit in its municipal pension system with its 11 employee unions as it faces a 10th straight operating deficit of $90 million that will require perhaps scores of layoffs without agreements on pay and benefit cuts.

While current Campbell employees will maintain the pension they were promised at their hiring, effective in March of this year, all new employees will be on the less expensive plan. Campbell's safety staff had previously adopted a lower-cost plan, and the efforts that spanned
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the summer and fall of 2010 to put the miscellaneous employees on the same page were formally recognized at Tuesday's meeting.

Under CalPERS, there are different levels of pension benefits available to the safety and miscellaneous employees within each city. Safety includes fire and police staff, while miscellaneous refers to everyone else, such as maintenance staff, dispatch workers and administrators.

The CalPERS contract amendment reduces miscellaneous city employee pensions from 2.5 percent at the age of 55 to 2 percent at the age of 60. While the savings from these adjustments will not be evident immediately, the new pension system is estimated to save the city 16 percent in retirement costs in the future.

Campbell city manager Daniel Rich said other cities in the county have taken steps toward the same end, and the League of California Cities has made pension sustainability a top priority for the year.

"Palo Alto was the first to do it for some of their employees, but they had to impose it," Rich said. "Since then, I believe Gilroy has voluntarily done it with their safety employees, and Los Altos has done it with their miscellaneous but not their safety."

Campbell is unique not only for applying the reduced pension plan to both groups of employees, but also for the method by which the agreement was reached.

"This is a very sensitive issue, and fortunately for us and our community, all our groups agreed to it," Rich said.

Rich added that the safety employees, who were first to adopt a lower-cost pension plan, were not obligated to discuss the matter at the time.

"The police were in the middle of a contract," he said. "Legally, they didn't even have to talk to us. It speaks volumes to the wisdom and trust of our employees, and the collaborative relationship we have."


Posted by Start Afresh, a resident of Country Fair
on Jan 18, 2011 at 12:23 pm

And once this group peels open the wrapper around the city's unfunded liabilities, they will move onto the unfunded retirement and retiree medical liabilities of public education (Web Link), (Web Link), (Web Link).
And with a potential parcel tax election in May, and the increase in state taxes election in June, it looks like we'll be living in exciting times.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2011 at 12:39 pm

It is not just Campbell, or San Jose that are trying to reduce the pension benefits.

Two states: Colorado and Minnesota are doing the same:

Web Link

here is what the governor of MN wrote about pensions:

Web Link

The time for pension reform has come. Unions will fight it with all they have, but in the end, they have to understand: there is no money to continue their high salaries and too generous a pension.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2011 at 12:45 pm

The entire article about Minnesota and Colorado is a must read (it also talks about South Dakota), but an interesting paragraph that should apply to Pleasanton is this:

"many state lawmakers and pension administrators have concluded that cutting benefits for new employees alone will not save enough money in the short term to keep pension plans solvent over time. So they are searching for ways to zero in on the benefits of current retirees and employees. "

Web Link

Pleasanton should do the same: look for a way to legally get out of paying those pensions we cannot afford and should have never been allowed to be negotiated.


Posted by two cents, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Web Link

Interesting LA Times article about pensions in CA


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 18, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

From the article posted by two cents: "Delaying retirement just five years would, on average, cut pension costs in half."

That's significant!


Posted by it is hopeless, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Besides cutting pension costs in half, it would greatly reduce the retiree medical cost.


Posted by Arnold, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Over the past several months Mayor Hosterman has repeatedly stated that the current pension plan is unsustainable and the city has been doing things that taxpayers aren't aware of to address the problem, while referencing a "white paper". I was encouraged by this because, in late 2008, she seemed oblivious to the fact the runaway pension issue was serious, despite the mounting evidence. She demonstrated her lack of awareness in a debate with her mayoral opponent during her 2008 campaign. The problem was unsustainable then but now it is absolutely a critical condition; the mayor is behind the curve on this issue. And despite her claim of unsustainability, I have never seen her demonstrate any depth of knowledge regarding why it is unsustainable. Nevertheless, the city published: REVIEW OF THE CITY'S STRATEGY FOR MANAGING PERSONNEL COSTS.

While I hope everyone reads this report, there is something I would like to point out. My point relates to some comments on this site about who is negotiating these contracts for the city/taxpayers. From the report:

"The City's Negotiations team is given parameters and authorization from the City Council to present proposals, and in turn to respond to bargaining group's proposals and responses during the bargaining process."

Unfortunately for taxpayers the unions are very efficient in their efforts to interview potential city council/mayor candidates to ensure they are on the "same page" with the unions regarding future contracts/issues. They do NOT endorse, fund, or campaign for candidates without some level of assurance that their interests are protected. That protection is happening in this current PCEA contract. The white pages (EXHIBIT E) that Mayor Hosterman has been touting as evidence of her/council's commitment to pension reform provides guidelines for addressing the pension issue but, unfortunately, only some of those recommendations have been adopted. More on the "white paper" at a later time.

I can only surmise that the union's voice is paramount to the citizen's cries for representation regarding the very serious pension issue. And the fact that Mayor Hostermans leadership on this issue is underwhelming leads me to believe she has political aspirations beyond Pleasanton, and therefore doesn't want to upset her politically powerful union supporters.


Again, more on Exhibit E (white paper) later today.


Posted by Arnold, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2011 at 3:06 pm

"From the article posted by two cents: "Delaying retirement just five years would, on average, cut pension costs in half."

That's significant!"

Then I guess th opposite would also be true. When Pleasanton, in 1996, changed the Misc employees retirement from 2@60, to 2@55, I'm guessing it had a similar but opposite effect on the cost/unfunded liability. What isn't mentioned in city documents is that it ALSO increased the cost of providing full retiree medical, upto the medicare eligability age of 65, from 5 years to 10, therby doubling the city's exposure to retiree healthcare costs. Good for the employees on both counts - but bad for the taxpayers.


Posted by Arnold, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2011 at 3:44 pm

For those of you who are interested in where the Pleasanton PCEA unions pension funding ranks compared to the state average:

FUNDED STATUS OF EMPLOYEE PENSIONS
-----------------------------------------------------------

Statewide average:
FY 2009: 61 percent funded
Source: CalPERS

Pleasanton PCEA pension funding
FY 2009: 52.2 percent funded
Source: CalPERS


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2011 at 4:44 pm

From the article posted by two cents:

"It's obvious that we need to change the kind of benefits we give to the next generation of public employees in the state. But that alone won't be enough. Changing current employee benefits too is crucial to avoiding the service reductions, pay cuts, layoffs and furloughs that would be necessary to keep public retirement plans afloat at their current levels. The California Constitution should be amended to allow the state's generous benefit formulas to be temporarily suspended for current employees and replaced with more modest formulas until depleted government pension funds fully recover"

This is what everyone is saying, not just in California but in other states: that it is not enough to reform pensions for future public employees, something needs to be done about those currently in pensions because it is not sustainable. We cannot afford to continue paying the benefits and pensions of those already enjoying them because we simply do not have the money.


Posted by Yet Another Teacher, a resident of Hart Middle School
on Jan 18, 2011 at 9:51 pm

*Laughs at the rich white Pleasantonians foaming at the mouth about "overpaid, unionized civil servants" and walks away*

No point in debating this one. You can only debate with an open mind. Facts are useless here.

Keeping grinding those ideological axes.

"Taxes the price we pay for a civilized society."--Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes (one of them LIB'RUL JUDGES I'LL BET)




Posted by Walter, a resident of another community
on Jan 18, 2011 at 10:38 pm

Oh you poor "Tax-paying citizens of Pleasanton." Life is so rough that all those beautiful parks, gorgeous homes, clean streets, graffiti free walls, and low crime rates mean nothing. It appears many of you like to jump on the bandwagon and speak with little knowledge by blaming those who make your city so nice for the root of the financial crisis. The facts have been clear for the past several years, the housing bust, banks, and Stock Market are the reasons for a failing economy… not the city workers.

Let us think about it for a minute; the city employees are doing a job that many of you would not want. In fact, many of you can enjoy your life, house, and fancy cars because of the job you possess. Many of your city workers do their job not because they have to, but because they want to give back to their community. In fact, many of your city workers possess a college degree and still choose to work for YOUR city. Furthermore, it would be interesting to note how many of YOUR city workers actually live in YOUR community of Pleasantville. I am guessing not many.

In addition, I'm guessing the majority of Pleasanton's city workers live in other cities because they cannot afford the high cost of living you "tax-paying community members" can afford. How about this, if you are so concerned about the taxes you pay, why not move to another city that is failing like Oakland, Antioch, and so on. See how much of your quality of life changes and your taxes will be much lower too. Remember, your city workers also have homes and families to care for. And like so many other American's, their homes have lost values, spouses have lost jobs, and have had to foreclose or short sale to sustain a life.

Now, some of you also criticize the police and fire department. Are you serious? Let me ask you this, asking for city employees and public safety personnel to contribute 2-4% of their earnings that is like taking a 2-4% decrease in monthly pay. So in essence, you are asking public servants to be just that… slaves to you! As a citizen of Pleasanton, when you call for one of these services how long does it take them to respond? Do they (Police and Fire) do their jobs effectively? Are they professional? Now, reduce their monthly pay (Now putting them in financial difficulty) and see how those attitudes change. How can you look them in the eye when you call for help and ask them for help after you have just reduced their income? But I guess for you Pleasanton residents it really does not matter does it? When you take your vacations on holiday weekends and enjoy being at home with your families at night and on holidays, these are the people who look after you. Yes, they are not home with their families; instead they are watching your homes and keeping your city safe.

If you really want to save the city money here is an idea. Stop having all those happy "Community of Character" special events. Downtown street fairs, antique fairs, that stupid tree on Main Street lit up year round, and etc. Oh that's right, it's the city employees who do all the work so that you have your Mayberry life. As for your City Manager, "MR CM" (Really, who has such an ego) he boasts about paying his 8%, but how about his other perks like monthly allowance for a car. Did the other managers really agree to pay 4% or were they demanded? Hmmm?

And who is this Bart Hughes? A "Business man?" Why doesn't he stick with running his own business versus trying to attack the employees who dedicate their lives to a community he lives in. Stop trying to be hero Mr. Hughes!

Stop and think about it….


Posted by No pennies left for our retirement, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2011 at 11:43 pm

Yes, delaying reetirement by just five years, would cut pension costs by half. It stands to reason, new employee fix helps in future...like 30 years from now. Correcting current excesses is the only way to help any municipality in this decade. Of course any fix would have to be soon enough to stop further sinking, right into backruptcy....best to not wait too long...then it could be impossible to reverse.


Posted by Big Boss, a resident of Foothill Farms
on Jan 19, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Kay Ayala has been a loud-mouth, windbag in this city for years. Now she has her little trolls, Bart & David to do her bidding. Maybe Bart can explain why he is so concerned about a group of people that average modest annual increases(less than COLA), while at age 47, he boasts about being semi-retired. He wants his cake & eat it too, a'la mode.


Posted by Arnold, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 19, 2011 at 4:11 pm

"why he is so concerned about a group of people that average modest annual increases(less than COLA)"

The same reason many people are concerned about the NOT so modest annual increases. How is 35% increase in pension benefits AND a 42.4% increase in compensation modest? Half of the years that paid these increases occurred while revenue was flattening or declining. Every time you get a raise it also increases the pension costs, and those costs are currently 25.3% of payroll...and going way up. Every 1% of increased compensation actually equates to 1.253% increase compensation, soon to be 1.35%. So if you were to multiply your raises over this contract by the 25.3% that the city currently kicks in toward your pension the compensation increase/your benefit is over 53%.

At the same time you received that 53% increase in compensation, more if you were also receiving step increases, your pension funding has almost been cut in half to 52.2% funded. So, the true cost of this 8 year contract and the corresponding wage increases is grossly understated. The difference will be made up by taxpayers, over the next decades, for work that has already been performed. For the taxpayer that translates into reduced services, increased taxes, or both. And the cost of your fully loaded health care plan has been increasing at an average annual clip of 8-9%. If all that stresses you out you can use the free counseling sessions that are provided for in your health benefits.


Posted by Arnold, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 19, 2011 at 4:12 pm

"why he is so concerned about a group of people that average modest annual increases(less than COLA)"

The same reason many people are concerned about the NOT so modest annual increases. How is 35% increase in pension benefits AND a 42.4% increase in compensation modest? Half of the years that paid these increases occurred while revenue was flattening or declining. Every time you get a raise it also increases the pension costs, and those costs are currently 25.3% of payroll...and going way up. Every 1% of increased compensation actually equates to 1.253% increase compensation, soon to be 1.35%. So if you were to multiply your raises over this contract by the 25.3% that the city currently kicks in toward your pension the compensation increase/your benefit is over 53%.

At the same time you received that 53% increase in compensation, more if you were also receiving step increases, your pension funding has almost been cut in half to 52.2% funded. So, the true cost of this 8 year contract and the corresponding wage increases is grossly understated. The difference will be made up by taxpayers, over the next decades, for work that has already been performed. For the taxpayer that translates into reduced services, increased taxes, or both. And the cost of your fully loaded health care plan has been increasing at an average annual clip of 8-9%. If all that stresses you out you can use the free counseling sessions that are provided for in your health benefits.


Posted by Arnold, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 19, 2011 at 4:12 pm

"why he is so concerned about a group of people that average modest annual increases(less than COLA)"

The same reason many people are concerned about the NOT so modest annual increases. How is 35% increase in pension benefits AND a 42.4% increase in compensation modest? Half of the years that paid these increases occurred while revenue was flattening or declining. Every time you get a raise it also increases the pension costs, and those costs are currently 25.3% of payroll...and going way up. Every 1% of increased compensation actually equates to 1.253% increase compensation, soon to be 1.35%. So if you were to multiply your raises over this contract by the 25.3% that the city currently kicks in toward your pension the compensation increase/your benefit is over 53%.

At the same time you received that 53% increase in compensation, more if you were also receiving step increases, your pension funding has almost been cut in half to 52.2% funded. So, the true cost of this 8 year contract and the corresponding wage increases is grossly understated. The difference will be made up by taxpayers, over the next decades, for work that has already been performed. For the taxpayer that translates into reduced services, increased taxes, or both. And the cost of your fully loaded health care plan has been increasing at an average annual clip of 8-9%. If all that stresses you out you can use the free counseling sessions that are provided for in your health benefits.


Posted by Arnold, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 19, 2011 at 4:12 pm

"why he is so concerned about a group of people that average modest annual increases(less than COLA)"

The same reason many people are concerned about the NOT so modest annual increases. How is 35% increase in pension benefits AND a 42.4% increase in compensation modest? Half of the years that paid these increases occurred while revenue was flattening or declining. Every time you get a raise it also increases the pension costs, and those costs are currently 25.3% of payroll...and going way up. Every 1% of increased compensation actually equates to 1.253% increase compensation, soon to be 1.35%. So if you were to multiply your raises over this contract by the 25.3% that the city currently kicks in toward your pension the compensation increase/your benefit is over 53%.

At the same time you received that 53% increase in compensation, more if you were also receiving step increases, your pension funding has almost been cut in half to 52.2% funded. So, the true cost of this 8 year contract and the corresponding wage increases is grossly understated. The difference will be made up by taxpayers, over the next decades, for work that has already been performed. For the taxpayer that translates into reduced services, increased taxes, or both. And the cost of your fully loaded health care plan has been increasing at an average annual clip of 8-9%. If all that stresses you out you can use the free counseling sessions that are provided for in your health benefits.


Posted by Bart Hughes, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2011 at 6:55 am

In 2002, we provide a 35% increase to public employee pensions. At the same time we provided eight straight years of raises resulting in a 41% increase in income. This means that the average employee's pension benefit rose by 76% during this period.

This is the issue pure and simple. It was a poor decision/plan based on faulty data (starting with the union dominated CalPERS board that has been so, so discredited). Pleasanton had this issue well before the financial meltdown. So while many would like to blame this on Wall Street (and by no means am I defending them), it just is not so. The source of the problem is with the pension program itself.

It is not something we can afford as a society. And there is not a day that goes by where a major publication doesn't points this out. Unions are the only groups that continue to argue against reality. Is it surprising that there is so much animosity towards public employee unions these days?

So here we are eight years later with a very large unfunded liability and pension/medical retirement costs that are squeezing out the rest of the general budget. The problem must get fixed and it is time for employees to start contributing to solve this problem. A problem they will benefit hugely from. Remember that every $50K of final salary for a retiring 55 year old represents $1.35M in benefit.

BTW, I started this effort on my own because I am concerned about the financial future of our great town. While Kay and I have like minds on this issue, I literally met her for the first time on Saturday. I am thankful that there are other concerned citizens that are willing to work along side me to address the issue.


Posted by joshua, a resident of Laguna Oaks
on Jan 20, 2011 at 10:00 am

I am new to this bulletin board but have been a Pleasanton resident for about nine years now, having retired as a Police Captain in 2001 and moved out west from Massachusetts. It is clear that California's state and local PERS pension contracts must be reviewed and amended, but NOT at the expense of currrent employees who bargained in good faith... and more importantly, provided services in full trust the State or individual municipalities would hold their end of the bargain.

The Tri-Valley is becoming increasingly unaffordable for the municipal employees who serve here and, as a result, far more employees are now living out in the Central Valley. Speaking from experience, don't you think employees with a vested interest in the community in which they work (in other words, they reside locally) would be more likely to serve YOUR best interests? Or would you rather have frustrated and unappreciated employees serving your needs? While not true of the vast majority, this town nonetheless has some truly spoiled - and very vocal - residents. Residents who made fortunes on dot.coms and assorted other startups. They expect Rolls Royce service and when they don't get it they cry to the City Manager, Fire Chief or Police Chief. Well, brace yourself folks, if we allow Kay Ayala, Bart Hughes and the lot to throw our city's government workers under the proverbial bus we'll no longer be holding our own with Danville and Alamo but, rather, with Vallejo, Oakland and Richmond. Don't be penny wise, pound foolish people.


Posted by GX, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2011 at 10:35 am

Joshua - Interesting perspective coming from someone who is benefiting from the unaffordable pension system. Doesn't this make you a little bit biased?

How high does the annual cost of supporting pensions have to get before you get concerned? 20%, 25%, 30%, 50% of the budget?

Do you really support continued draining of city services to maintain pension payments? Do you really want to turn Pleasanton into a retiree rich/services poor like so many other communities these days?

I guess as long as you personally get your own pension check, everything is OK, right?


Posted by P, a resident of another community
on Jan 20, 2011 at 8:06 pm

As a city worker I have to agree with Joshua on what he said:

It is clear that California's state and local PERS pension contracts must be reviewed and amended, but NOT at the expense of currrent employees who bargained in good faith... and more importantly, provided services in full trust the State or individual municipalities would hold their end of the bargain.

I was all for a 2 tier system but it was never an option to vote on.

Why isn't anyone addressing the fact that the employees are starting to pay for their retirement? Ya it's only 2% but you can't expect it to be all 8% at one time. It could be worse, we could still be asking for us to pay nothing but we did agree to start paying. Small steps at a time, this contract it's 2%, the next contract it could be 4%.


Posted by it is hopeless, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 21, 2011 at 12:05 pm

"It is clear that California's state and local PERS pension contracts must be reviewed and amended, but NOT at the expense of currrent employees who bargained in good faith... and more importantly, provided services in full trust the State or individual municipalities would hold their end of the bargain."

A big problem of the last negotiation was that CalPERS did not disclose their risks and misrepresented the plan by saying the increase in pension benefits "would not costs anything." The political leaders were then in a situation where the employees were looking for an increased benefit and said that since it does not cost anything, you should give it to us. It is hard to argue that a benefit that greatly helps the employee but does not cost the employer anything is a win-win situation.

CalPERS directors who made the inaccurate statements should first be put in jail for what they did. The employees, as well as everybody, can see that the new pension plan HAS cost a lot of money to cities and the only way it would not cost money is if CalPERS has investments that return at least 25% per year, guaranteed, for life. I would love to find a risk-free investment for my 401(k) that returns 25% per year, for live.

The employees have to acknowledge that the pension system change that was done was based on false or misleading data and we all need to work together to fix the situation. Right now all I hear is either "this is not costing more; the additional costs are all lies", or "it does not matter if it cost more, a lot more, we negotiated it and we won, so ha ha."

The 2% payment of retirement is a pretty small start, plus there is no plan to go beyond that. Especially considering the increased pension costs to the city.

It would be more fair to have a two year contract, like you have proposed, with the first year the employees paying 3%, the second year the employees paying 6%, and at the end of the contract it goes up to 8%. Also have starting today all new employees are on a 2%@65 plan. We also need to cap medical costs for current employees and retiree. As a city we cannot afford to pay retiree medical; especially since the employees are not making any contribution for that benefit and there is no cap on it.

The city should offer a cafeteria plan and fund it with a certain amount. The employee can decide what is important for their life on whether they want to fund a health savings plan, current enhanced medical and/or dental insurance, deferred compensation plan, etc. As a city, financed by taxes, we will know what our costs are for the length of the contract, and the employees can choose what is important for them.

Minimally, if the city offers any benefit, there has to be a cap on the cost. That is our only protection. If the cap ends up not covering enough for the employee, then the employees can ask to open up the contract and we can see what makes sense. Right now 100% of the power is with the employees and 0% for the taxpayer. That is not "negotiated in good faith" if the taxpayers do not have a say. Maybe all increases in salary and benefits should be voted on by the taxpayers. That is another way to handle this.


Posted by Diana, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Jan 22, 2011 at 7:58 am

"Ya it's only 2% but you can't expect it to be all 8% at one time. "

Really?

"we gave them a lot in 2002 (35% pension bump, 41% salary increase, etc.). It seems at though it is a one-way street with public employee unions."

I can understand why they think we are stupid because they totally got over on the taxpayers but we are starting to pay attention. Thanks to community activists who are do the City Councils job once again.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 22, 2011 at 8:54 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Yea, but I don't see that as much of a reason to go from 0% to 8% all in one year. It only is a reason why we have to get to 8%, to having the employee pay the full amount of their contribution. That can take different forms, either go to 8% in one year and give them a raise to soften the cut in take-home pay (and freeze raises for the next year), or have 3% in one year, 3% in the next year, and so on (especially if there are COLA raises every year).

The problem is that the tentative agreement does neither. Having the 2% for the life of the contract (two years?) is just a way of gambling that in 2 years the problem will be gone. It's just kicking the can down the road. Unfortunately the problem won't be gone in 2 years. So how do we get from 0% to 8% with this contract in a fair way (or some would say good faith)?


Posted by P, a resident of another community
on Jan 22, 2011 at 10:35 am

To Diana, I keep hearing a lot of people saying "well you guys recieved a 41% salary increase in 8 years and that we'll retire at 55 as millionaires". NOT TRUE. Yes we recieved 41% but most of us working in the "field" that keep pleasanton up don't make a whole lot as it is. If I retire at 55 with 20 years of service, I only get 54% of my paycheck. That's just at about $2,000 a month. Now tell me how at 55 I'll be living like a king getting $2,000 a month.


Posted by Bart Hughes, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 22, 2011 at 10:59 am

P - Can you describe what you do for the city? Your numbers above suggest you currently make $44K/year which means that you make $32K/year in 2002. Are you a part-time employee?

Let's assume for a moment that you do in fact earn $44K/year now and are 55. The NPV of your retirement is $648K. First, this does not happen in private industry. I appreciate that your retirement by itself is not an issue, but multiply this by everyone and higher salaries and then you'll begin to appreciate the predicament we are in. We as a socitiety, nation, state, county and city can't afford this.


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