The case against C and D

Public employee union members want to halt the assault on their jobs and benefits


By Brenda Barros, Riva Enteen, Joe Jacskon, Renee Saucedo, Dave Welsh, David H. Williams and Claire Zvanski

OPINION The Guardian started out right on Proposition C and D:

"Our initial instinct was to oppose both of these measures... There's a basic unfairness about all of this that bothers us ... city workers are being asked to give up part of their pay — but the wealthiest individuals and big corporations in San Francisco are giving up nothing. It's part of the national trend — the poor and middle class are shouldering the entire burden of the economic crisis, and the rich aren't suffering a bit."

It's too bad that the Guardian editors didn't stick to their guns.

We all know why decent pensions and health care cost so much: corporate greed. And the identity of the corporate criminals who are driving the economy into the ground is no secret. It's the Wall Street banks and financial speculators. It's Bank of America and Wells Fargo. It's the corporate CEOs. It's the insurance companies.

All workers, whether they work for the city or not, have a right to affordable medical care and a decent retirement.

Take Ethel, who retired 10 years ago after working for the city for more than 20 years and collects a pension of only $17,000 a year. Both Prop C and Prop D would take money out of her check. Some city workers qualify for section 8 housing — Prop C and D would take money out of their paychecks too.

None of this is rocket science. But the corporate media pounds away daily at public employees and ignores the shenanigans of their buddies in the corporate boardrooms. And far too many fall for this bait and switch, or are just too confused to stand up and fight back.

Now, with Propositions C and D, the downtown bigwigs and their lapdog politicians are taking advantage of this confusion to sock it to the victims, and make workers pay for the party the rich have been having at our expense.

Unfortunately, there are those among us who think we should concede many of our hard-fought rights in order to appear reasonable and fend off future attacks.

Making these kinds of concessions is like putting a little blood in the water, and hoping that the corporate sharks will be satisfied. But the reality is that when sharks taste blood, they just get hungry for more.

The editors of the San Francisco Chronicle, the mouthpiece for Wall Street and its minions, said pretty much the same thing in a recent editorial:

"San Franciscans should have no illusions," wrote the Chronicle editors. "Props C and D offer only modest down payments on the reforms [sic] that must be pursued... The very fact that business and labor leaders are supporting Prop C... sets the stage for... further reforms [sic] that will almost certainly be needed..."

Of course the "reforms" that the Chronicle is demanding are just more attacks on workers' rights. That's why many political leaders, including former Supervisor Chris Daly and Ted Gullicksen of the Tenants Union -- opposed both Propositions C and D.

Enough is enough. Let's take heart from the Occupy Wall Street movement. After decades of Reaganomics, Bushonomics, and Democratonomics, it is high time to draw the line, stand up to Wall Street, and fight back.

Join former Supervisor Chris Daly and Tenant's Union leader Ted Gullicksen, and: Vote NO on C! Vote NO on D! Tax the Rich! 

Brenda Barros is vice-chair, Social Economic Committee, SEIU 1021. Riva Enteen is a member of SEIU 1021. Joe Jackson is co-chair of the S.F. African American Employee Association. Renee Saucedo is a member of SEIU 1021. Dave Welsh is a delegate to the S.F. Labor Council. David H. Williams and Claire Zvanski are retiree members of SEIU 1021.


You've nailed it. As I've said before Hellman is reprising his 'good cop' role from last year when he bailed on Prop B. But he is no friend of workers. His agenda is no different from that of Mortiz, who famously said that if pension 'reform' can succeed in SF, it can succeed anywhere.

{Translation: If we can succeed in driving down wages and benefits in SF, we can succeed at busting unions everywhere.}

The financial speculators drove the economy into a ditch, yet the workers are expected to pay for it. Bear in mind that most workers in this country haven't had a real wage increase in over 30 years. And the 1% are those who will benefit most from a work force that is weak and demoralized.

As Shamus Cooke blogged during workers' revolt in Wisconsin,

"Every time unions agree to lower wages and benefits -- as they have been doing for years -- they weaken themselves internally, thus opening the way for further, deeper attacks. The right-wing attack on bargaining rights did not appear from nowhere; it was the result of years of concessionary bargaining, which inevitably leads to worker demoralization within the union. An army which concedes every battle will be composed of demoralized soldiers."

Make no mistake~ Post election, the 'reformers' will be back, and like the thirsty vampires they are, they will exact more blood from the workers. When it comes down to it, the workers might want to ask themselves why they continue pay dues to unions who are weak and ineffectual when it comes to standing up for their workers.

Vote NO on C! Vote NO on D! Tax the Rich!

Posted by Lisa on Oct. 19, 2011 @ 3:20 pm

I guess you want unilateral disarmament.

While unions spend hundreds of thousands in each SF election, only middle-class folks with limited resources can donate in the interests of the City's long-term fiscal health and the maintenance of critical City services...Huh? Without the more affluent, who could ever match union $s?

Have you noticed at all yet that your union comrades are easily outspending the "billionaires" in each election...?

Your posts are all phony.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2011 @ 10:55 am

Total nonsense. Billionaires and the corporations from which those billionaires derive their riches, vastly outspend unions in elections. (By at least 3 to 1.)

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 25, 2011 @ 11:07 am

Talking about SF pension reform (subject matter).

Prop B (Fall 2010) unions $ > "billionaire" $

Props C & D (Fall 2011) union $ > "billionaire" $ (final filing to come)

These are facts.

It's just plain dumb to argue that in local elections unions can contribute hundreds of thousands and nobody else...

Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2011 @ 11:24 am

Let's see it. Where's your proof?

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 25, 2011 @ 11:32 am


Oh please, I thought we'd laid this canard to rest a long time ago. As Sarah Phelan said, the union money for Prop B came from the 25,000 local workers who chose to donate $2 per pay check for political purposes. So, that's where the union came up with $1 million to fight Measure B~ from 25,000 individuals at two bucks a pop!

By contrast, less than 500 people donated a total of $1 million in support of Adachi’s Measure B~ mainly billionaires/ millionaires. (as you say, we're still waiting on the final filing for Props C & D.) Don't take my word for it. Check it out for yourself~

Posted by Lisa on Oct. 25, 2011 @ 4:55 pm

we need to make them affordable. That isn't politics - it's reality. And there's only three choices:

1) Cut benefits
2) Make employees pay the full cost
3) Lose staff

A combo of all of those could work too. But you can't bury your head in the sand and pretend this problem will solve itself.

Posted by Anonymous on Oct. 25, 2011 @ 5:08 pm

That money you reference was coerced out of their paychecks. That is not free will, unlike Adachi donors.

For example, the rank and file hate Prop C and would never contribute one dime to support it. But is is money from their paychecks that is funding Prop C ads. As Herman Cain would say - that's apples and oranges...

Posted by Guest on Oct. 27, 2011 @ 8:37 am

See this quote from right wing public employee attacker Tim Paulson:

...."Tim Paulson, executive director of the San Francisco Labor Council, said the public employee unions came to support Prop. C because they “realized that there were going to be layoffs. They realized that as angry as they can be, they still have to be responsible.”

Yes, pension reform or layoffs. So much for your favorite movie script: "Attack of the Billionaires."

Yes, "tax the rich" but what do we have on the November ballot- regressive taxes on the poor Props B & G - so cynical. Support public employee largess ($135k average) with taxes on the poor - faux progressives!


And we learned today that Prop C is not supported by a SINGLE dollar from ONE individual SF middle-class taxpayer- just billionaires and unions.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 19, 2011 @ 5:03 pm

Who cares what Tim Paulsen has to say? Yes, the billionaires are behind Props C AND Prop D. They are hedging their bets and playing the workers off against each other. That's my point. If you read this article, you'd know that many rank and file workers don't support either measure.

So, you're trying scare us with layoffs, is that it? Well, that's actually the goal of the 1%. However, there's an alternative course. Over the weekend, tens of thousands of people all over the world occupied the streets. We understand that these austerity measures are being foisted on us by the corporate criminals who brought down the world economy. We say NO!

At the moment, cities and states across this country are competing for the crumbs left over after the 1% got through looting the till. And there is no need for this. We are a rich country and this is a wealthy state. If California were a country, it would be one of richest economies in the world.

California's system of education was once the envy of the nation. Public and private-sector made good wages and we had a solid middle class. What happened? The right-wing think tanks and foundations that have sprung up over the past thirty years pushed an aggressive campaign to drive down workers' wages and benefits. And these are the same groups pushing the meme that villifies public workers, rather than the 1% who crashed the economy.

If you want to see what their end game is, take a look at Greece right now~

"...whatever the scenario, the ruling class is determined to make the workers pay.” [...]

"The vast sums of money that will be needed to repay the debt will come from slashing wages and pensions--the overall reduction is estimated to be between 40 to 50 percent--from raising taxes and from cutting even more from social spending."

"Public employees' wages are being slashed yet again, along with pensions, pushing them down even lower. A wave of mass layoffs is underway. The government claims it will use surplus staff to fill other positions, but behind this gentle terminology is the reality: public employees will be used wherever the government requires them to work for 60 percent of their wage for a year, and then they will face unemployment."

"At the same time, there is an ongoing discussion about the need for mass layoffs of public employees. Plus, under a rule imposed by the "troika," only one worker will be hired in the public sector for every 10 who retire."

"These policies are already ruining ordinary people's lives. Greece's unemployment rate has already skyrocketed, and will soon hit 22 or 23 percent, according to the unions. Hospitals, schools and other public services, already suffering from staff shortages, will be stripped of their remaining personnel. The drastic reduction of public-sector wages, which traditionally set a high standard for all workers, will push wages down for the private sector, too."

NO on Props C and D. Fight back against global austerity!

Posted by Lisa on Oct. 19, 2011 @ 6:17 pm

Tax the slits, not the rich!

Posted by Guest on Oct. 19, 2011 @ 6:24 pm

That is all.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2011 @ 3:12 pm

The chocies are simple. Either cut back benefits, or make workers pay more for them or lay off many of those workers.

No other way. And private sector workers are very angry that public sector workers are enjoying such generous benefits.

Posted by Anonymous on Oct. 24, 2011 @ 3:25 pm

So of course he supports pension 'reform', because it fits the agenda of vastly weakening workers in relation to corporate power which his paymasters desire.

The rank and file needs to rise up and get rid of Paulson.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 25, 2011 @ 11:25 am

Amen Eric!

Posted by Lisa on Oct. 25, 2011 @ 4:28 pm

Maybe Ethel could get her job back with the city.

Posted by meatlock on Oct. 19, 2011 @ 6:10 pm

what don't you progressobots get about this?

Posted by meatlock on Oct. 19, 2011 @ 7:48 pm

Did Ethel retire at 57.8 (the average retirement age of all city workers)?

Did she get free health care for life as part of the deal?

The "city family" continues turning a blind eye to the $4+ billion in health care and pension obligations that will bankrupt the city sooner or later without real pension reform.

Maybe bankruptcy is the only way to wake city workers from their quiet slumber.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2011 @ 2:40 pm

"Take Ethel, who retired 10 years ago after working for the city for more than 20 years and collects a pension of only $17,000 a year."

Ethel gets free health care for life. I pay $450 a month for it in the private market.

I've been working since the 1970s. Much longer than 20 years. My annual letter from SS now says I will collect around $1,300 a month if I retire at 66.

Ethel's got it pretty good. She don't know it yet. But she will soon enough when the whole house of "city family" cards falls down.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2011 @ 2:45 pm

not make 'Ethel' pay...

Its called single payer, and it costs less than the current system.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 24, 2011 @ 2:59 pm

taxation approaching that of Scandinavia. And even the Democrats couldn't ultimately support "the public option".

Posted by Anonymous on Oct. 24, 2011 @ 3:08 pm

And that revenue is not a problem because so much is saved by eliminating the massive profits of private insurance companies, that single payer is easily affordable and saves even -more- money, which can then go into the economy and help it recover.

Businesses freed from the crushing burden of private health care insurance, will thrive again.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Oct. 25, 2011 @ 11:01 am

But it doesn't matter what anyone says - the money isn't there to support this level of largesse. So whether or not D passes, we're going to have to do that eventually, and more than that.

So we're not arguing over whether these changes happen, but only when. And the longer we leave it, the more City workers will have to be laid off, as they are unaffordable under the current scheme.

Posted by Anonymous on Oct. 24, 2011 @ 3:07 pm

Why is such a simple concept so difficult for people to understand...

Yes on D. NO on C.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 24, 2011 @ 3:14 pm

The first step towards 'free health care for all' is to provide comprehensive and affordable health care for all. The first step towards achieving that goal is to put some kind of check on the obscene profits of the entire Medical Industrial complex, including Million dollar salaries to CEO's of 'non-profit' medical organisations.

Posted by Patrick Monk. RN on Oct. 24, 2011 @ 3:40 pm

Because of the profit motive.

Take that away and we have a system more like Bulgaria.

Where's the money coming from, "Monk"? Let me guess. The rich?

Posted by Anonymous on Oct. 24, 2011 @ 3:59 pm

France has a better healthcare system than the United States, and longer life expectancy, without allowing "the profit motive" to act as the primary motivator within the healthcare system.

Here's the problem with the profit motive acting as the primary motivating factor within a healthcare system - it results in lower quality of care, because management is interested in profit and not in making sure the patient is receiving the best care possible. Conversely it results in hospitals overcharging for unnecessary procedures, particularly at end-of-life, in order to make more money - thus burdening everyone with onerous costs.

The profit motive should not be what underlies our healthcare system - at all.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 26, 2011 @ 10:44 am

What I said was "obscene profits..bloated CEO salaries". FYI, the most recent WHO report ranks us as 37th in the world, just above Slovenia, in the overall effectiveness of our health care delivery system, despite being #1 dollars spent per capita.
Hum...wonder where all that money goes. As a front line medical professional for the last almost 20 years I know where it doesn't go - patient care.

Posted by Patrick Monk. RN on Oct. 24, 2011 @ 10:12 pm

How does Prop D take money out of Ethel's pocket? That's a lie.

Prop D has nothing to do with retirees. Are the authors here that ignorant or just lying?

Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2011 @ 10:46 am

City employees are not voting for it. Retirees are certainly not going to vote for it. Ed Lee, prime sponsor, is being tarnished. No one buys the Wisconsin bs and all the special interests and self-serving City offiicials that are endorsing it. Final Count = 43%.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 25, 2011 @ 12:00 pm

cat got yer tongue

Posted by Patrick Monk. RN on Oct. 25, 2011 @ 2:39 pm

They had to ask Haaland five times to spit out how much billionaire Warren Hellman donated to Prop C before he would answer...$100,000. At least Adachi's billionaires aren't making money off the City's pension fund investments. What hypocrisy.

And Adachi called out Brenda on her lie here that "Ethel" would have money taken from her under Prop D. It's clear Brenda doesn't understand the propositions at all based on today's debate so why is she writing about them.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 26, 2011 @ 10:07 am


Note that he didn't show up to face Adachi face-to-face. He phoned it in and then did his usual routine. Invite him to a 60 minutes show and he'll speak for all 60 minutes if you let him and then complain to the moderator if any of the other parties try to comment.

You should really dial up this hour and listen to it. It's Adachi at his trial lawyer best and Haaland at his lying screaming scumbag worst. Moderator, Rose Aguilar was 'quite taken aback' shall we say. Not accustomed to a crude pig like Gabriel.

It's probably archived at KALW, 10am on 10-26-11, Rose Aguilar show.

Chief points were that Hellman/Haaland's Prop C was not inclusive because they invited neither Adachi (both Hellman and the Chronicle said that there would be no Pension Reform without Jeff) ... 'City Family' didn't invite Adachi or the retirees to the table. There's a reason.

Key point of Prop C for Hellman is that it changes the composition of the Board that decides on Pension Fund investments. Those went almost exclusively to anyone Hellman pointed a finger at until 2009. Then, the retiree majority went another direction and Hellman began trying to change the Board's majority to favor himself. We may be talking an underfunded block of money but it's still hundreds of millions of dollars and Hellman has a pathological need to control ALL money.

Prop C takes majority of pension fund investment decisions away from retirees and gives swing vote to Controller whom Hellman controls.

Not inviting Adachi to a discussion on Pension Reform is like not inviting Thomas Jefferson to the Constitutional Convention.

Go Gary Brown and Giants!


Posted by h. brown on Oct. 26, 2011 @ 11:35 am

Haaland is such a clown, blathering about how they negotiated prop d and prop c was put on the ballot by fiat by rich people. The board members that the SEIU owns jamb things down peoples throat all the time.

What a mealy mouthed lawyer like shit bag.

Posted by matlock on Oct. 26, 2011 @ 12:40 pm

I just listened as well. I don't know if I'd go so far as to call Haaland a "shit bag" but I don't think he came across very well at all. Who cares if so many people came together to come up with Prop C if it is a weak measure that comes up with less money than Prop D, and seems more unfair overall? The democracy will come at the polling place. I thought Adachi came off quite well, he seemed to have mastered the issue, as did the other woman (whose name escapes me).

and on a trite note, a debate tip for Haaland: enough with the "at the end of the day" line every 2 seconds. you sound rote and it was just annoying and a distraction from what you are trying to say

Posted by Guest on Oct. 26, 2011 @ 2:27 pm

just a talking point. A meaningless talking point.

He is more than happy to latch the SEIU onto any scheme forced on the public with no input but his side.

You are right, he has the pattern down though. One studied grouping of buzz words after another. It's how these people think, and how they assume they can win people over. It reminds me of EST.

Posted by matlock on Oct. 26, 2011 @ 2:54 pm

But the fact is he's listening to way too many NPR interviews and needs to work on his public speaking skills.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 26, 2011 @ 2:55 pm
Posted by Guest on Oct. 26, 2011 @ 3:49 pm

Are you going to come back here and correct your error that Prop D takes money out of a retiree's pocket...???

Thought you presented your case well in debate today.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 26, 2011 @ 12:55 pm

I listened to the entire interview on the Rose Aguilar show. I was impressed by the comments of the callers and the rank and file workers. As far as I'm concerned, Riva Enteen won the debate. At least, she had the most compelling argument. She basically said (paraphrasing here),

"Let's go back to the table, invite the retirees who were left out...invite the rank and file, We don't need the billionaires shaping the debate. Remember, it's the 99% and the 1%. Going after city workers is a part of unionbusting. How do we get money from the 1%? My principle is that we go after the 1% and that's the principle we go to the table with.

Yes, let's start over, go back to the table, include the rank and file & retirees, and get the billionaires out of this debate!!

NO on Prop C & Prop D!!

Posted by Lisa on Oct. 26, 2011 @ 5:24 pm

some actual common citizen tax payers.

Posted by meatsack on Oct. 26, 2011 @ 10:06 pm

Gabby really does come across as a gabbying windbag on that show. Even Aguilar seemed alarmed by his shrill chicken-voice.

Pension costs rising from $450 million a year to $800 million over the next four years? That's alarming. We will have to kiss summer school and street cleaning goodbye forever.

Bankruptcy looms!

Posted by Guest on Oct. 26, 2011 @ 8:23 pm

"At the end of the day? The problem is the framing? You know?"

-Gabriel, Mr. Articulate

Posted by Guest on Oct. 26, 2011 @ 8:28 pm

Who sounded petulant and angry and who kept repeating the same phrase, "at the end of the day," over and over and over.

Haaland seems himself as a latter-day Boss Tweed, able to make and break mayoral and supervisorial candidates as he sees fit. He's so off the mark it's not even funny. He himself didn't even come close to winning District 5 when he ran.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 27, 2011 @ 3:22 pm

Let's see. So the SF city budget is around $4 billion a year. And within the next 3-4 years, pensions by retired city workers will be eating up 20% of the entire budget.

That's outrageous. No wonder everything is falling apart around here.

I'm not voting for any more bond measures until the city family gets its act together.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 27, 2011 @ 8:20 am

They don't give a damn about services for the poor, public health, our parks etc. They just like to pretend to when in reality, they're just union mouthpieces. This much we have learned over the last year.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 27, 2011 @ 8:45 am

Just voted No and mailed out my ballot.

Posted by Guest from SF on Oct. 27, 2011 @ 12:52 pm

I think that if we do not, then even more painful changes will become necessary. The sooner we address this problem, the easier it will be.

Posted by Guest on Oct. 27, 2011 @ 1:32 pm

Did you hear about his pension reform proposals?

Which evil billionaires are hiding behind the curtain?!

Posted by Guest on Oct. 27, 2011 @ 3:08 pm

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