United Public Workers for Action

Just Say No To Reining In SF Public Employee Pensions "shock Doctrine with this Health Service Governance proposal"

Nancy Snyder, Retiree SEIU 1021 City And County Of San Francisco

SF Union Officials Kowtow To Democrats In Concession Bargaining

It was with great fanfare at the May 24th press conference where San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee presented his proposed grand design to cut the benefits of the City and County of San Francisco's workforce, or, the 200 page-plus ballot initiative under the guise of pension reform. The Mayor was hoping for smiles all around – after all, he was now presenting a ballot measure that he hoped would outshine the proposed ballot legislation of his political rival, Public Defender Jeff Adachi; Mayor Ed Lee was forcefully responding to the supposed hue and cry of the San Francisco voters to “rein in public employee pensions.” And, the Mayor's proposed legislation was the product of a blessed triumvirate of the City's top managers, their counterparts in the San Francisco Labor Council's Public Employees Committee (the band of the public employee unions in San Francisco) and, to give the famed San Francisco millionaire Warren Hellman the opportunity to help the City of San Francisco, Hellman would be the aegis behind the actuarial study that would become the economic foundation of the ballot legislation. 

This would be the third year of substantial wage and benefit cuts to the City's workforce; this time, the cuts would not be through each union's local through contract negotiations but this product would be a ballot measure that would radically change the economic retirement package of the City's workforce.  Depending on their level of earnings, a wage cut of 11% - 13% would be imminent for the City's employees; there would also be a potential cut to the City's retirees annual Cost of Living Allowance; and, the City's dogged persistence that the Health Service Board for City's employees redefine their governance: The changes to the HSS Board are a change from 4 elected to 3 elected which numbers the appointees 4 (not 5) but would still give the City an advantage. There are 7 members in all and this amendment tips the balance. The City contends that the 4th appointee by the controller has to have the approval of all of the other HSS Board members so it is fair which of course it is not. The wording is vague and may be trying to circumvent this voting process. It was a touch of the shock Doctrine with this Health Service Governance proposal; it was the one element that the City was most vehement in attaining.  There was no give and take just the acquiescence of the PEC labor representatives to the loud outcry of their respective memberships.

With this proposed legislation, this was the coup that the Mayor is most insistent on; and a concession that has the ability to potentially bankrupt their own memberships with escalating health care costs from the decisions made by a Health Service Board with out adequate checks and balances – there would be no balance in determining health employee rates and, whatever the reason for the sacrifice of members' health care, their members agreed that the consciences of the PEC Labor Representatives were under anesthesia: they are not buying the talk given by their prospective union representatives serving on this committee: no matter how hard the effort, members are not accepting this package carte blanche and are angered by the assumption that they would just accept the deal.  Not pay any attention nor ask for much information.

In SEIU Local 1021, as a recent retiree I was more than angered at the utterance of this increasingly weak reckoning: members must pay their fair share in their wage concessions to solve the City's financial disasters.

This false logic ignores the reality of the last two years of 5% wage cuts; the wage cuts experienced over decades that has affected every City workers' retirement; and, for the members in Local 1021 these wage cuts have taken a toll with diminished retirements, and, dashed hopes that their unions are adequately addressing the problems.

The San Francisco membership and retirees of SEIU Local 1021 have not accepted this proposal; most are more than just a little bit opposed to this PEC Outrage, they are actively opposing this ballot measure that is another nail in the coffin to the labor movement: there will never be a time to cut the poor and elderly off from health care availability and from a fair standard of living.

Unfortunately, despite the subtle – and not so subtle pleas - from the leaders of SF Local 1021: including the promise of no contracting out of union work which was met with skeptical belief from the members present – the 1021 members are expecting and demanding that their leaders speak for them. This is not happening.  Therefore, the change in SEIU SF Local 1021 will come from the membership and not their leaders that they elected last year with the promise of hope and change.  Alas, it was not to be. 

Nancy Snyder, Retiree SEIU 1021 City And County Of San Francisco