SEIU rally draws 1,000 to city hall

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City workers rally againt pay cuts
PHOTO BY ANNA BAKALIS

More than 1,000 city employees gathered at City Hall April 18 for a protest that ended in 23 arrests.

The protest comes as the SEIU Local 1021 contract negotiations with the city’s employee relations division are underway. According to Larry Bradshaw, Local 1021 vice president, the city’s proposal may result in pay cuts and health care cost increases for city workers.

“Here’s your negotiations update. The city and county wants you to take another 2 ½ percent pay cut this year and next year. The courts want their court-workers to take a five percent pay cut indefinitely,” Bradshaw, who works as a paramedic, told the crowd.

He also claimed that: “If you have Kaiser, under the city’s proposal you’re going to pay six times more than you’re paying currently. If you have Blue Shield, you’re going to pay twice as much. If you’re on the city plan—I’m not making this up—you’re going to pay one hundred times more than what you’re paying right now.”

Workers at the rally ranged from hall janitors to General Hospital nurses to Department of Emergency Management dispatchers donning shirts reading, “we run 911!”

Workers from the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers Local 21 also attended to show solidarity.

Sups Avalos, Mar, Kim, Chiu, Campos and Olague offered their support at the rally.

Around 6:30, the group left city hall and marched down Polk St. City workers then stretched caution tape across Market at Van Ness, in front of a Bank of America branch, and 23 sat down on the street. After a police warning, they were arrested for obstructing the sidewalk.

“We’re sitting to protest the greed of the city. The man is getting raises. The district attorney and the city attorney are getting raises. And they want us to take more pay cuts and furloughs,” said Arlette Smith, a protective services social worker, ten minutes before she was arrested.

The union wants to take these pay cuts off the table.

SEIU Local 1021 spokesperson Carlos Rivera also noted, “we’re sitting by Bank of America because banks and corporations don’t pay their fair share.”

The union is calling into question a tax settlement from 2001, in which a court ruled in favor of several corporations that sued the city over a hybrid payroll and gross receipts tax structure. The union characterizes the resulting loss of about $25 million per year in tax revenue as a loophole.

“The payroll tax is only paid by ten percent of San Francisco businesses, yet they’re asking city workers and non profit workers to continue to shoulder these massive budget deficits year after year,” said SEIU spokesperson Anna Bakalis.

Bakalis said that the SEIU is focusing on reinstating a gross receipts tax after researching alternative solutions for the city budget, if the pay cut and health care increases do not go though.

“We want to be able offer some solutions,” she told the Guardian. “We want to help them fix the budget.”

The union plans to return to city hall for further demonstration April 30 "if they have not taken those pay cuts and health care cuts off the table,” according to Bradshaw.

Comments

City workers pay $9 a month for full healthcare coverage. They pay around $200 for full family coverage.

I pay $1,400 for myself and two dependents.

City workers complain because they haven't had a payraise in three years. Guess what? Nobody has. We are in the worst recession since the Great D.

The city family lives in a fantasy world, coveted and protected from the realities of life.

Its pension costs are rising $60 million a year. And, hence, city services have to be cut by $60 million annually.

Face reality, folks! Suck it up and take your hits just like the rest of us. You can retire as early as age 55, and you get full healthcare benefits for life after retirement. You get bumped up to higher pay scales just before you retire. You are coddled. We are tired of your whining.

Posted by Troll the XIV on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 11:28 am

It is ridiculous that you have to pay that much in healthcare costs, that shouldn't be the reality or at least we shouldn't allow it to be. However, that is not the fault of the public employees. Who created this recession? Was it working families? The lowest paid workers? NO. It was wall street and corporations, you know this.

Public employees set a standard for ALL working people. If they get their benefits cut, what do you think will happen to the rest of the workforce? Who do you think fought for living wages, the weekend, etc.? Also, why would you want the people who keep our cities running to be attacked?

Please, think for yourself. Don't buy in to the corporate message taking over our country. FOX NEWS IS NOT YOUR FRIEND.

Posted by makecents on Apr. 23, 2012 @ 10:06 am

We are all living in a fantasy world. The worker has been vilified for working, Why do you not look at the payroll of uper-management. Only fire and police can get bumped up to higher pay scales, that has somewhat been addressed. Finaly you can retire at 55 but you must have 20 years of service to receive anything that will help in your retirement. So stop whining about us we have to all work together we live in a City that cost top dollar to live in.

Posted by Guest imejia on May. 01, 2012 @ 2:26 pm

You could relocate to where your fiscal sitaution makes more sense.

Posted by Guest on May. 01, 2012 @ 2:53 pm

You are right we dont have to live here . I chose to live here born and raised a San Franciscan own my home and pay my taxes. Maybe you can read what I wrote agian.

Posted by Guest imejia on May. 01, 2012 @ 5:15 pm

"""He also claimed that: “If you have Kaiser, under the city’s proposal you’re going to pay six times more than you’re paying currently.""

So, you will be paying $45 a month for full healthcare coverage instead of $9.

Count your blessings! You live in a fantasy world!

Posted by Troll the XIV on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 11:29 am

Hey get your facts straight, go to 1021 SEIU web site. READ then make an informed comment. What did you miss the last election also? See PROP C and PROP D by the way PropC won.

Posted by Guest imejia on May. 01, 2012 @ 2:53 pm

To bring them in line with the private sector, they'd need cuts of 25% to 50%.

It's a straight choice - cut your pay and benefits, or we'll cut your jobs. Their choice - make it wisely.

Protesting will only lose them what little sympathy remains. How can you have any sympathy for janitors making 60K pa with almost free healthcare and pensions on our dime?

Posted by Guest on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 11:45 am

From what I have read, the city is talking about raising healthcare costs by HUNDREDS of $$$ and that's for the lowest paid workers. Did you know that only 10% of the cities' corporations pay their fare share in taxes? If I was mayor, I wouldn't look to cut public employees, FOR THE 6TH YEAR IN A ROW, to balance our budget while at the same time the wealthiest are receiving tax breaks. If this is a recession, why aren't the corporations having to pay their fare share?This isn't the first year that public employees have had to bail out the city. As a youngster, I am ashamed that people have such low regard for the folks that run our city.

I am ashamed of the society we live in and would except people, especially the old timers, to know better.

Posted by makecents on Apr. 23, 2012 @ 10:14 am

hundreds fo dolalrs per person per month. So it's a problem that city workers pay almost nothing for it and, moreover, get that for life even if they quit or retire. NOBODY in the private sector gets thkat kind of deal.

The average voter is sick and tired of this double standard, and are quite simply not willing any more to pay for both their own healthcare/pensions and these city freeloaders.

If corporations are taxed more, then their ability to pay our wages will be compromised, meaning that our pay and benefits will be cut even more. So that would be maintaining the bloated position of city workers on our dime. Again.

Can't pay - won't pay.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 23, 2012 @ 10:45 am

City workers are on defined-benefit pension plans that guarantee them 8% returns every year. The stock market rose 0% in 2000-2010. That 8% difference has to be made up by dipping into the general fund.

This is why street cleaning, summer school, SF General health services for the public get cut every year.

They need to be put on defined-contribution pension plans (like Social Security) so they won't keep robbing the General Fund year after year after year

Posted by Guest on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 12:33 pm

How ridiculous these claims are.

Let's be clear, City employees with no dependents - pay NOTHING for health care. And with one dependent, they pay NINE dollars a month, NINE! What planet do these people live on??

That's BEFORE we get to their pension plans which are bankrupting the City.
They want a RAISE?? For every DOLLAR in wage increase they would receive, taxpayers would have to pay 30 CENTS additionally in pension contribution.

Absurd. We can't even pave the streets.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 4:42 pm

San Francisco is one of the most expensive places to live. Paying rent, or to pay a mortgage in this city is unreal. On a single family income a family of four even at 62K sounds good; but with a taxable income of 28% is very hard at the end of each month.

I am grateful to have a job but I tested and tried for years get one of the last coveted jobs and past up one job and quit another in the private sector that paid more but with less job security.

City employees struggle just like you you hear a lot of press of the six figure employees, but you don't ever hear about the majority of the working poor employees who qualify for the benefits the city administer.

Posted by Guest onslimcat on Apr. 19, 2012 @ 8:51 pm

Most city employees dont even live in SF. They live in lower cost areas where they don't have to pay the high fees they are causing. Spare us the bs.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 20, 2012 @ 12:22 am

Rookie SF police officers receive $83,000 salaries. That's before all the endless overtime they can bill for standing around at Occupy protests, etc. Heahter Fong has a pension of more than $200,000 annually. So-called "safety workers" (police and fire) have great pay and can retire at 55 on full pensions.

But all city workers have great deals. Retirement as early as 55, full healthcare coverage until death, and sweet "defined-benefit" plans that pay good pensions.

For us minions, the ones that will recive may $2,000 a month from SS when we retire, it's hard to be sympathetic when city workers ask for a pay raise during the Great Recession, while all city services are being cut.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 20, 2012 @ 10:56 am

They are the ones keeping our families, homes and belongings safe.

My concern is far more the unskilled city workers who get paid twice the rate of those doing similar jobs in the private sector, and with far better benefits. If it were up to me, I'd cut 10% of them immediately - that would probably focus these protestors more on survivial rather than greed.

As for the cost of living in SF? Cry me a river. There's is no rule that says that you have to be paid more just because you choose to live in an expensive place. It's your skills that defines your pay, and not your needs or aspirations.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 20, 2012 @ 11:29 am

and the good will they enjoy to squeeze higher, unnecessary comp out of the City - moving us to bankruptcy. See recent stories about how the City can't afford to hire new cops because their comp is so high including recent retirements. So yes I resent their greed making us less safe.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 20, 2012 @ 4:58 pm

I dont know where you got the information, but the city is giving payroll tax breaks to businesses like Bank of America, Wells Fargo,.........and many more corporations while expecting city workers to take cuts. This corporations have us bankruptcy.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 20, 2012 @ 10:56 pm

I have an inkling as to where you might be getting yours...What will bankrupt the City is unfunded employee benefits, $5 billion in health $7 billion in unfunded pension liabilty and growing rapidly with no funding mechanism in place. Any "payroll tax break" would be on a scale of $50 million a year plus or minus and pales in comparison (annual pension costs alone are rising $100 million a year). I believe banks are already exempt from the payroll tax and no other major cities in CA even charge such a tax.

Those evil banks and corporations employ the folks who fund the bloated City payroll.

The problem lies within.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 20, 2012 @ 11:26 pm

""$5 billion in health $7 billion in unfunded pension liabilty and growing rapidly with no funding mechanism in place.""

The solution for future city-employee hiring: Have them pay into Social Security like normal workers. Don't offer them defined-benefit pension plans.

Then city finances will be brought back into order--in about 40 years.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 22, 2012 @ 10:16 am

replace them with contractors who fund their own pensions.

Posted by Guest on Apr. 22, 2012 @ 4:36 pm

Thank you public employees for keeping our cities running and protecting workers' rights!

Posted by makecents on Apr. 23, 2012 @ 10:08 am

Yes, pension costs are out of control.

But the union is correct when it complains about pay raises for city managers.

When any organization - public or private- is facing dire straits, its top executives should not be given pay raises of any kind.

Posted by Troll the XIV on Apr. 23, 2012 @ 2:13 pm

But in every case where austerity is pushed on the powerless, the powerful end up coming out in better shape than before austerity and the powerless end up weaker.

Posted by guest on Apr. 23, 2012 @ 2:23 pm

The move here is to stop the powerless pushing their austerity onto us, particularly those of us who feel intimidated by them.

Or doesn't that matter to you?

Posted by Anonymous on Apr. 23, 2012 @ 3:02 pm

gradually reducing their benefits to normal levels.

If we do this, it may yet be possible to avoid firing large numbers of city workers.

Posted by Anonymous on Apr. 23, 2012 @ 2:29 pm

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