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Contract Should Be Renegotiated

Original post made by Bart Hughes on Feb 5, 2011

The current Pleasanton PCEA employee contract should be renegotiated for several reasons. First, the contract would mean that Pleasanton retirement costs continue to rise faster than the overall budget thereby crowding out other line items. Inevitably this means a reduction in services for residents. Staff acknowledged this cost point during the public workshop on Tuesday evening.

Second, the contract would ensure that Pleasanton's retirement unfunded liability, already an unsustainable $185M (MVA), will continue to grow. Simply put, it is irresponsible to continue to let this happen. Once again, staff acknowledged this liability growth point Tuesday evening.

Third, the city did not put forward a credible plan to address our unfunded liability. The suggestion to use current city reserves to pay off the debt is not feasible and would put the city in a precarious financial position. It is an unsustainable approach to approve employee contracts without a concrete framework to address the liability. Essentially, this contract would be "kicking the can down the road".

Fourth, it is the fiduciary responsibility of our elected officials to consider new material information. Since the November 6th, 2010 closed-door agreement, CalPERS communicated that Pleasanton's contribution costs will grow substantially over the next few years. On top of this, CalPERS communicated further rate increases due to its planned reduction of investment returns assumption. This has not been accommodated for with the current tentative agreement.

Lastly, this contract was discussed and agreed upon behind closed doors and well before the public had the opportunity to provide input. This action is quite dissimilar to what many cities operate. Cities like Santa Cruz first gather input from citizens and then enter into labor negotiations. The Mayor and several Council Members stated the need to negotiate in good faith with the union and therefore are bound by this tentative agreement. Where is the good faith with regards to citizens? How can the Council bind the city to a decision outcome that admittedly excluded public input early in the process?

The following omission is quite telling: the current proposal does not contain a two-tier pension element that so many other cities have already implemented. A two-tier pension would not cost current employees anything, but would allow Pleasanton to begin to control long-term pension costs. And yet the Council doesn't feel it is right to send the contract back for re-negotiation. To date, absolutely no contract changes have been made due to public input.

Unfortunately, it appears that this contract will be approved as is. Pleasanton residents deserve and should have had a better outcome that balances the needs and sacrifices of both employees and citizens. Most everyone, including the Mayor and City Council, acknowledge that we have a serious issue that needs to be addressed. It should start now in a meaningful way with this current contract.

Comments (22)

Posted by Concerned, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 5, 2011 at 10:18 am

Totally agreed. It is quite obvious to any rational observer.

Posted by two cents, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 5, 2011 at 10:24 am

Absolutely agree.

Posted by resident, a resident of Downtown
on Feb 5, 2011 at 10:59 am

I'll say it again -- this council is gutless and spineless. They held the meeting to give the appearance of taking input. They never intended to act on it. This contract was a done deal back in November.
Get the initiative started. How about a lawsuit agianst these bozos for failing to act appropriately on their fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers?

Posted by Anon, a resident of Jensen Tract
on Feb 5, 2011 at 3:38 pm

I am wondering if you are all part of the Pleasanton Citizens group that seems to have "hijacked" the city logo for their own use? As a long time resident of this city I was insensed to see my city's logo used for the agenda of a few pitchfork and torch carrying yahoos. I plan to call the city on Monday morning and ask that the legal department does something about this.

Posted by another resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 5, 2011 at 5:01 pm

Sounds like "Anon" could not find any fault in the logic of the writer. Just does not like the Pleasanton logo, which I would think belongs to all of the residents, being used.

Posted by Diana, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 5, 2011 at 8:06 pm

I agree completely. Thanks to Bart and those who tried to expose this problem as early as 8 years ago.

Posted by ANON, a resident of Jensen Tract
on Feb 5, 2011 at 8:59 pm

When referred to as pitchfork carrying yahoos- be aware I find plenty of fault in the so called logic of the writer. Just for the record. I personally feel the logo (Which I believe is copy righted) shouldnot be used for private agendas. Thank you.

Posted by Workshop Witness, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2011 at 6:57 pm

Today in Daniel Borenstein had another pension article titled "Pensions are higher than advertised".. how union members use 'misleading' information to manipulate their tales of woe. Using 'averages' that include parttime low-paid types, who leave at TWENTY YEARS, when spinning 'retirement' stories.
While on the Times site,check out all Borenstein's many pension articles, that he has spent 2 years researching.

Posted by Workshop Witness, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2011 at 7:05 pm

I just realized, I must have missed the accounting of the "stimulus" Pleasanton received. I read it was used to "PAY INTO"" the pension retirement fund that is UNDERfunded ! ! Shouldn't that have been in Emily's report that first, we received "stimulus" money, Second, that 'somebody' decided it best use was to pay into the union fund, third, there should be a public 'accounting' of the use of that money.
Where'e the 'rest of the story' ? ? ?

Posted by David Miller, a resident of Mohr Elementary School
on Feb 6, 2011 at 10:37 pm

David Miller is a registered user.

@resident et al.,

If this contract is approved as-is, I am willing to go door-to-door to gathering signatures for a pension reform initiative that 1) takes meaningful action to get this problem under control, 2) puts controls in place so it will never happen again, and 3) defines a common sense process for future contract negotiations so this kind of 11th hour crisis does not re-occur. We will find out if this is necessary on Feb 15th when the council is schedule to vote.

Anyone else ready for an initiative? I prefer to walk precincts, work the farmer's market, Lucky's, Safeway and Wal-mart with a partner. :)

Posted by Stu Bailey, a resident of Golden Eagle
on Feb 7, 2011 at 6:34 am

For the city to move forward and approve this plan without having some plan to deal with this long term that is understood by the residence is irresponsible. This isn't Washington DC. We have no abilty to print money here. The counsil needs to take action starting now.

Posted by Workshop Witness, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2011 at 8:56 am

The most important reason for 'answering' about the stimulus dollars used toward pensions, is the integrity of the budget expenses and impact on actual needs in next year's budget. Those numbers have to be included and origin explained in what we actually spent on pensions.

Posted by Debbie Beardsley, a resident of Del Prado
on Feb 7, 2011 at 9:05 am

Agreed, the mayor and council are gutless and are not doing their job. It is time for all citizens of Pleasanton to stand up and require something be done about this. Keep watching, there will be grass root movements coming to aid Pleasanton.

Posted by Concerned, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2011 at 12:09 pm

Looks like Pleasanton is going to set an example to the gutless State and federal politicians and the public sector employees that have taken over the Govt. of the public employees,for the P.E. and by the P.E. A few years down the road maybe we will be regarded as the straw that broke the camel's back and turned this monstrosity of the Public sector pensions around. This is De Ja vu all over again. Instead of King George and the British parliament we have King Obama, Prince Brown and their politicians and public sector unions. The people have to rise again and rewrite history.

Posted by Margaret Souers, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Feb 7, 2011 at 12:43 pm

My husband and I totally agree with Bart Hughes and are frankly, appalled, that this contract was negotiated without consulting any of the residents of Pleasanton first.

We think it needs to be completely re-negotiated in order to take into account the realities of underfunded pensions as well as health care costs. When the private sector has given up so much in salary cuts and benefit cuts across the board, the city workers' union has no right to expect any preferential treatment. Growsing about "how hard I've worked all these year" just doesn't deserve the time it takes to mouth the words!

Posted by people first, a resident of Foothill Farms
on Feb 7, 2011 at 5:19 pm

(Post deemed inappropriate by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff)

Posted by common sense, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2011 at 7:09 pm

I guess its just me. But, I would like to see some numbers. Is anything at all funded? Are all the pensions of retired people unfunded? And what action does it take to reduce the retired persons retirement entitlement? Just because a previous administration made a bad decision are all people in the future saddled by that decision?

What is best action for the people of Pleasanton as of today? Shall we will all acquiese to past decisions or should we be bold enough to decide what is best from this day forward?

Posted by resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2011 at 7:14 pm

Two more votes to cancel this contract and get some control over this outrageous situation NOW!

Posted by Steve, a resident of Stoneridge
on Feb 7, 2011 at 7:14 pm

Hi "people first"!

Why aren't you a CEO? Why aren't you at least a Pres. or VP? They make unwarranted, obscene wages, so it must be an easy job with great benefits. So everyone ought to be able to be one, right?

If the so-called "good 'ol boy" network is keeping you out, just start your own business (I wonder how Meg broke through??). Just mortgage your house, and charge up your credit cards, and work 80-120 hour weeks for several years, and you might be successful. Then pay yourself some "unwarranted" salary, and put up with complaints from people like you that you don't deserve it.

Then again, you might actually work the 80-120 hour weeks in a company, get an MBA in your spare time, never see your family, not know your kids, perhaps have a heart attack, live in your office, and perhaps get promoted to Director or VP, and then put up with people like you saying you don't deserve your wages.

See! It's simple. All of the private sector wimps can do it, and no collective bargaining is required!

Posted by Nancy, a resident of Downtown
on Feb 7, 2011 at 9:35 pm

Are you kidding? That contract is a win for the city. It includes takeaway after takeaway. Read the agreement first. Don't take Bart's word for it.

An initiative to do what exactly? Collective bargaining is a right.

Posted by Aghast, a resident of Ruby Hill
on Feb 8, 2011 at 1:08 am

(Post deemed inappropriate by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff)

Posted by jacob and alma, a resident of Las Positas
on Feb 8, 2011 at 7:36 am

Bart, Kay and a Tea Party member. Now that's an angry trio!

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