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Unions and pensions are a big problem, even here in PUSD

Original post made by Concerned on May 18, 2010

Although this article talks about the City of San Jose and its budget problems, what the article talks about also applies to all unions' concessions, including the PUSD concessions made this year: they are temporary at best, and like the article says:

""It's just kicking the can down the road a couple years," he said. "The deficits don't go away when you don't address them with ongoing solutions." "

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Unions and their pensions are the problem everywhere in California: from education to cities, they are driving everything to bankruptcy. The problem must be addressed, end the pensions and start fresh; declare bankruptcy if you need to in order to get out of the unreasonable obligations that are not sustainable anymore.

In PUSD, the problem of budget deficits will continue until the root cause is addressed. This coming year, the PUSD board feels proud to have gotten concessions, but they are ignoring the big problem and next year we will hear cries again about not having enough money. Freeze step and column, re-negotiate contracts with the unions, get smart for once. If bankruptcy is what is needed, do it, it may be bad temporarily but in the long run, it will save our district a lot of money and prevent deep cuts to programs.

Comments (29)

Posted by need permanent cuts, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 18, 2010 at 1:37 pm

The outrageous pension and insurance liabilities must be stopped. I am well versed in the situation in San Jose -- retirements as early as age 50 (with 30 years of service), fully tax free pensions due to false claims of so-called disabilities (CA law over rides Federal law, wonder who lobbied for that), raises to the pension in accordance with raises for current contracts, fully paid medical insurance for entire family for life, the list just does not end. San Jose firefighters work 10 days per month for full pay. Every day of overtime is paid at 150% pay, there is no limit to the number of overtime days worked.
The firehouses have modern kitchens, computers and big screen TVs with all cable and satellite stations -- in case the City wants the employees to watch videos for education updates. Right. Most stations are filled with top of the line workout equipment, sure some stations charge the people dues to pay for it, but how many of us have large rooms in our homes to accommodate that? Taxpayers pay for those rooms in the firehouses. I do not know the stats, someone could probably find out, but the occasion of an actual fire is pretty rare. Most calls are medical in nature. This leaves the firefighters plenty of time to shop at the local Whole Foods store (yeah, they can afford the prices) and often times have time left over to hang out at Starbucks. There are stations in SJ that get a small handful, if any, calls on a regular basis. That city is just filled with waste. Pleasanton is not far behind.
The time is now to let the city management know that Pleasanton expects cuts, permanent cuts, to be made in these excessively generous pay and benefit packages.

Posted by 911, a resident of Danbury Park
on May 18, 2010 at 2:00 pm

If you think most firemen sit on their rears all day just waiting for someone to call for a bloody nose you are crazy. And people DO call for bloody noses! They are not only told to "drop everything" in the event of an emergency (and yes that includes the people who panic when their nose bleeds too long), they are required to participate in drills several times a month, whether in a classroom setting or "live" drills. They shop at the supermarket in order to prepare their food at the station - instead of eating out - they make good food choices and "cook at home". They collectively "pool" their money for the daily food which is cheaper than everyone bringing their own. Why do you want to fault them for taking a break at the local Starbucks? If you (MS or MR Need Permanent Cuts) work in an office setting aren't you allowed breaks? A lunch? If you had to be there 48 hours straight would you be "working" the entire time? No dinner? Would go without TV? A nice chair to relax in while you are "on call"?

I think you are just jealous!

Are you just jealous?

Posted by Just broke, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 18, 2010 at 2:55 pm

Nope, just broke and unemployed at 50...without any retirement. The prez has not funded private engineers/small he's funded fire, schools, cities, counties, etc! Of course they're all PUBLIC UNIONS and we're not !. figures!

Posted by Laura, a resident of Downtown
on May 18, 2010 at 3:08 pm

Will not matter much longer for our state pension holders. Once we are out of money so are they. Ask them how well funded their pension plan currently is? The answer should alarm them.

Posted by Bob, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 18, 2010 at 6:27 pm

I am a firefighter. I will die before I should because of my job. I have a higher incidence of cancer and cardiac problems due to my job. I have watched at least two other firefighters I know die each year that I have been employed. I watched some of them die slow painful deaths from job related cancer and blood diseases caught while helping citizens.

I see things that most people should never see. I have to bring calm to chaos. There are things locked away in the back of my mind that I will never speak with anyone about. If you have never heard the scream of a mother when you tell her that her child is dead, I hope you never experience it.

I work at least 56 hours in a week. I do work overtime because if I don't it will be assigned to me. We don't have enough firefighters to fill the open spots. I would much rather spend that time with my family. I have been forced to work many holidays and had to explain to my kids that I can't come home for Christmas so that people can be safe.

I do something good for people every day and people are now trying to villify my job. It is interesting to me that people are attacking public employees. We did not cause the economy to fail. We are doing our part to help the situation. I don't know any millionaire firefighters. As much as some people hate to hear it, we don't get rich doing this job.

No matter what happens - we will always respond to everyone's calls to 911.

Posted by Laura, a resident of Downtown
on May 18, 2010 at 7:29 pm

Glad you are there and glad you enjoy your work even if the monetary rewards will not be there in the future. Good to hear that does not motivate you.

Posted by M., a resident of Downtown
on May 18, 2010 at 7:59 pm

M. is a registered user.

Let start with a simple question.

What do fire fighters do?

Fire fighters save lives period. They rush to us when we call upon them be it for medical fire or other crisis. They respond to each and every cal they receive regardless of how trivial it may end up being, i.e. the bloody nose example. As well they are called upon in a citizen's hour of greatest need. Be it an accident, a fire, a shooting, it does not matter they respond. They do not withhold treatment based upon political or religious affiliation nor sexual orientation. They rush into fire against all human instincts for self preservation in order to save lives. They spend far more time at work than they do with their family. They have the misfortune of being exposed to a great number of cancers and other blood diseases as stated by Bob. Yet they do this without complaint, without demand for more money, public adulation, nor even the thanks or recognition of the general public.

As far as I am concerned when it comes to the value of these men and women one could not assign any amount of money, for it would not be enough no matter the number. As such I say regardless of our economic woes, regardless of how we must "suffer" in these difficult economic times these men and women deserve more, more than we can possibly begin to repay our collective debt to them.

Yes, we all have had to cut back on spending, less trips to Starbucks, no new shoes this week, only one trip to the salon this month, only get to eat out twice a week. How does that measure up in relation to the value of a human life, and the men and women who seek to save lives?

We can sit around and argue that fires are rare, or that most calls are rather trivial, perhaps this is all true. When the critical calls come, the heart attacks, the strokes, the fully engaged structure fires with occupants the multiple injury accidents and we have cut their funding, and staffing some of those calls will go unanswered, or at the least will not be reached in time to save lives. Will you vilify them then? Will you blame the fire fighters for failing to save a life when you have taken away the tools they need to do so?
Another thing, there are not many fires because of our fire fighters, through education, prevention, and preparedness the few fires we do see do not explode out of control and destroy ten homes instead of one, or ravage entire neighborhoods or massive tracts of land. Go ahead send the fire fighters home for a week and watch your town burn and citizens die because emergency medicine was not available.

I for one thank all the men and women who sacrifice their time, their family lives, their health and sometimes their lives to protect us, to save us when we need saving.

Posted by Laura, a resident of Downtown
on May 18, 2010 at 8:26 pm


So what is your solution if you want our firefighters to have rich retirement programs at ages as young as 50? What other services or commodities in the state would you like to cut in order to fund it?

Posted by need permanent cuts, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 18, 2010 at 9:20 pm

for Bob -- "I will die before I should because of my job". Please spare me the theatrics. Many people will die before they should due to nothing more than trying to put food on the table for their families. As you are well aware, fire prevention has moved ahead in leaps and bounds in the past years and responding to medical calls when you do not treat or transport is hardly life shattering. Telling a mother that her shild is dead? I doubt it, fire dept personnel do not pronounce death and do not relay that to the parents. Yes, your job is important. Does it warrant full retirement at age 50 with lifetime free benefits and a tax free pension? Not in this lifetime.
The time is well past due to reign in these pensions and benefits. Your pay might (MIGHT) be justified but your pension and benefits are not. Any city in CA has the option to renegotiate compensation packages, and they should. If the unions refuse to make some give backs then the city needs to follow the lead of Vallejo. Declare bankruptcy and force a new contract onto the public safety people. Get a grip, things have been too good for far too long. Time to adjust to reality.

Posted by Bob, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 18, 2010 at 10:08 pm

M - thank you for your kind words.

To needs permanent cuts - First, it is not theatrics that I will die sooner due to my job. The fact is that a firefighter's life expectancy is 10 years shorter then the average American. Second, most fire departments in California have paramedics now. Paramedics provide advanced life support skills and can pronounce death in the field. I have had to pronounce five children dead- I could tell you about each one of them - what they were wearing, time of day, color of hair, etc. The fire department has much more stringent response time standards then private ambulance companies like AMR. In most areas, the private companies response time standard is extended when a firefighter paramedic gets on scene. Why is that? This way the for profit ambulance company can cover a larger area with a lot less resources. The problem with that is all the recent data shows that to have a chance of surviving cardiac arrest, you need defibrillation in 3-5 minutes. After that window, we can only revive a small percentage of people. I guess it comes down to priorities.

Finally, I take issue with the fact that you advocate vacating contracts. I ask you this - are you annoyed when someone walks away from their mortgage and their home goes into foreclosure thereby decreasing your property value? Wouldn't you rather they work with the bank and come to a mutually agreeable solution? It is the same thing with our contracts, we understand that the economy has taken a downturn. We don't like being scapegoated for the economy's woes, but we are doing our part too. We are working on things to address your concerns in a way that does not endanger your safety or force me to get a third job.

Posted by Thomas Paineful, a resident of Canyon Oaks
on May 18, 2010 at 11:20 pm

No offense to the senior citizens among us, but I really don't want a firefighter over 50 years old trying to rescue me from a burning building. That's a job for young men and women.

The two most stressful jobs in our society are police officer and firefighter. Yes, they deserve a pension at an earlier age because they aren't accountants or toll booth operators; their work requires a certain level of physical stamina and agility that quite frankly diminishes with age.

Next time you call 911, do you really want the people who respond to your emergency call to have to take time to unfold their walkers?

Posted by M., a resident of Downtown
on May 19, 2010 at 12:23 am

M. is a registered user.


Clearly I am speaking form the perfect world point of view in so far as granting riches huge sums of money etc... I fully understand that this is not possible, nor practical. My point which I thought was quite clear is that fire fighters and other emergency response personal do deserve more than they have, frankly more than we can afford to give them. As for how to fix the budget to prevent cuts, I'm not about to pretend that I can answer that.

What I can answer is this, yes they can retire at 50 if they so desire, after a working life spent risking their lives for everyone else. That is what they get as thanks for their service, for doing a terrible job, dealing with things most people will never have to with any luck, and coming out alive at the end. If you or anybody else cannot see, and understand the value in that I don't know what to tell you.

Posted by Sooooooooooooo, a resident of Del Prado
on May 19, 2010 at 6:45 am

Here is an interesting question for everyone since being a Pleasanton Firefighter is so life threatening. How many Pleasanton Firefighters have lost their lives in the line of duty since Pleasanton became a city? Cannot be from smoking, car accidents off duty, or heart attacks, but actually fighting fires.

Posted by I <3 our firefighters, police and teachers!, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 19, 2010 at 9:47 am

I usually don't read the forum in much detail as I find it it full of reactionary right wing citizens who would like nothing better than to pay 0 taxes and ensure everyone "pulls them self up by their bootstraps". History has clearly shown this is not an effective approach. When I saw the headline today and found that now not only are our teachers being vilified but now our firefighters and police I was absolutely astonished and revolted. Denigrating the work of our incredible public servants who dedicate their lives to keeping us safe and teaching the future generations is frankly deplorable and I am ashamed to call you my neighbor in Pleasanton.

One of the things that makes our country great is that we have tried over time to put in place a network of public and private programs and resources to ensure the safety of our citizens while allowing free enterprise to continue to foster the most successful economy in the world. Say what you will about your current inability to get a job, you still live in one of the most prosperous and beautiful locations in the world. When times were flush for technology, few were denigrating your right to have beer bashes on Friday and foosball games at breaktime. What about the $1600 chairs in the conference rooms and the untold $ spent on travel to meetings and conferences that had little impact on the bottom line? Unfortunately the shortsightedness and excesses exhibited by many of the local tech industry companies have resulted on unprecedented impacts on many in our area and around the world.

How are you spending your time now that you are unemployed? Are you finding ways to be a contributing citizen, helping others, or sitting around wallowing in your personal pain and venting on forums? I think you might seriously help lift yourself out of your current situation if you found a better balance, so get off your computer, get out in the community and make a difference!

Posted by susan, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on May 19, 2010 at 10:25 am


Posted by Rat Turd, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 19, 2010 at 10:32 am


I had not heard that but I guess it will be interesting to see or hear where that money will be coming from. I think we are going to need to file for bankrupcy in order to get them to the table to negotiate. In bankrupcy all contracts are null and void and must be renegotiated.

Posted by need permanent cuts, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 19, 2010 at 10:45 am

This is not a denigration of the work of public safety officers, merely a statement that they and their outrageous contracts have killed the goose who laid the golden egg.
No one deserves to retire at age 50 with a lifetime free pension (yeah, "hurt" on the job), lifetime free medical and raises every time the current workers get one. No one! How many Pleasanton firefighters have lost their lives on duty? A more telling question might be how many have ever even run into the proverbial burning building? Fire prevention works well.
My job is 24/7 also. I lost count years ago of the holidays NOT spent with my family. Although I work 24 hours per day I am not paid to sleep, eat, shop, workout or watch TV.
"When times were flush for technology, few were denigrating your right to have beer bashes on Friday and foosball games at breaktime. What about the $1600 chairs in the conference rooms and the untold $ spent on travel to meetings and conferences that had little impact on the bottom line?" You miss the point entirely. I, the taxpayer, never once paid for any of that. As a cunsumer maybe, as a taxpayer, never. Therein lies the difference. I, the taxpayer, will no longer willingly pay these outrageous pensions and benefits to anyone. It has nothing to do with my personal situation, I am quite well off thanks for wondering, and I have earned it myself not by being funded by you, the taxpayers. The abuse of the taxpayers has to stop and ceasing these underfunded and overly generous public pensions is the place to start.

Posted by Thomas Paineful, a resident of Canyon Oaks
on May 19, 2010 at 10:53 am

So if Pleasanton firefighters were more skillful and had more on-the-job deaths, the Tea Baggers in Pleasanton would favor more generous pensions?

Um...ok. That makes sense (not).

And what about police officers? Many of them never fire their guns even after two decades on the force. Does anyone really believe that the police officer's job is not stressful...or that we taxpayers can save money by arming the officers "Barney Fife Style" (that's one bullet only, kept in the vest pocket).

Let's face it, the Tea Baggers are a bunch of right-wing reactionary nut cases who dream of a world that never was and never will be.

Posted by need permanent cuts, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 19, 2010 at 10:59 am

for TP -- that made me laugh. I am as far from being a teabagger as possible. I am just tired of making my own way in the world while subsidizing public pensions, among other things. And no, I would not like to see anyone hurt on the job. Just commenting that it is not as physically challenging as some make it out to be. There are plenty of jobs with far greater risk -- like maybe working on an about-to-blow-up oil rig. . . . . bet those guys don't get tax free pensions and medical insurance for life starting at age 50.

Posted by sknywench, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on May 19, 2010 at 3:23 pm

sknywench is a registered user.

I am concerned that the State Pension Fund has asked the State to fund their $ 4B shortfall. Particularly at a time when the State as we know is trying to close a $ 19B deficit. Something has to give. I dont think enacting an accerlerated tax on pension income for those receiving PERS prior to standard SSI retirement age is out of the question. It would decrease as a person reaches SSI retirement age. I have PERS with 15 years service credit and if I were to retire at 55, I would have no problem agreeing to a supplemental tax to help avoid cuts to mental health, child care, police/fire, etc.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on May 19, 2010 at 3:49 pm

I don't know anybody who receives a pension that wants to give it up!

I think that it is very very important for people that are still working and paying into Social Security to continue making their monthly payments. It works!

tee hee hee, tee hee hee...

Posted by Mike, a resident of Highland Oaks
on May 19, 2010 at 4:36 pm

If we can afford it, fine.
If we can't afford it, then we have to adjust.

Posted by Maja7, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 19, 2010 at 8:03 pm

God Bless ALL Firefighters and Police!!

Posted by junebug, a resident of Birdland
on May 20, 2010 at 11:28 am

God Bless Fire Fighters and Police, of course, and also people like my husband who is working in a lab trying to find the cause and cure for cancer, or my sister who works with at-risk youths. The point is, there are heros in both the public and private sectors. The issue at hand is not the undisputed gratitude we owe to these people who are saving and protecting lives, but how are we realistically going to fund outlandish city, county and state pensions which includes guaranteed high incomes starting at 50 and 55 with life-time paid medical/dental benefits. The math simply does not add up.

Posted by Just broke, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 20, 2010 at 3:50 pm

Soooooooooooooooooooooooo, did anybody answer your many firefighters have lost their lives ON THE JOB in Pleasanton ? Don't we have a 3 story limits also?
There was a national report THIS year that said on-the-job deaths, truckers were first, nationally, firefighters were not in the top 10.
If a resident makes a 911 call, don't several different agencies and trucks show up ?? Some we pay for, some we don't?? Who decides? Who pays. Those are separate questions from age of retirement. Of course Soc Sec age keeps creeping UP, since we are ALL living longer ! Soc sec was set up to start at 65, because at THAT time the average death WAS 65. Today, our average is 80-90. Golly the second career , in 'retirement' could end up being LONGER than the first career !

Posted by Soooooooooooooooo, a resident of Del Prado
on May 20, 2010 at 4:10 pm

Nawwwwwwwwwwwwwww one answered because I believe they are aware the answer is zero. The state is bankrupct and no one wants to make the tough choices as to what needs to be eliminated out of the system, schools, government workers, police, firepeople, bart employees, toll takers, etc.

The decision will be made for them soon enough.

Posted by Rick, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 22, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Actually a dangerous job is in Iraq or Afganistan, not being a policeman or fireman. Reality check. And we need to pay the people who work at producing and coming up with new business ideas and companies. Not goverment employees unless that is all we want is govt. employees.

Posted by Harry, a resident of Pleasanton Village
on May 25, 2010 at 4:07 pm

Police and fire wages and benefits need to be cut.

These overpaid bastards will put us all in the poorhouse.

Posted by junebug, a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on May 25, 2010 at 5:07 pm

I do think the Police get the short end. Its a stressful and dangerous job on adaily basis even in suburbia. I think they should get higher salaries, but pension reforms are still needed to address long term financial drains on the State by all unions and special interest groups. It isnt the fire fighters and police that gets me. Its paying a $100K/year pension with life time medical/dental benefits to an administrative worker or mid-level manager and his/her family who has worked at a City Hall or School District and decides to retire at 55.

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