Wednesday, December 10, 2008


SEIU's message has been more subdued lately. Maybe they know the blood in the water is real this time. Since union layoffs usually happen based on seniority, will the older members support reduced pay so the younger members can keep their jobs? All I know is, when SEIU starts backing down, it's about to get real ugly in unionville.

Here's a sampling from their November 12 newsletter (pdf):

We're fighting furloughs, holiday cuts
The governor is once again dragging state employees into the state's budget crisis – this time by disguising wage cuts as unpaid "furloughs." Local 1000 leaders were quick to denounce the governor’s latest proposal...

"California’s chronic budget deficit is a revenue problem," said Jim Hard, Local 1000 vice president for organizing and representation. "We must insist that legislators drop their political baggage to take real actions on raising revenue."
And this is from their December 3rd newsletter (pdf):
Substantial gains still in place
Our bargaining team has been meeting with state negotiators for six months and we've already signed more than 400 tentative agreements that both protect our hard-earned guarantees from past contracts and that improve our current contract.

"We've been very strategic in our approach," said Walker. "We've listened to members, prioritized their concerns and continue to organize and fight back."
Notice the shift from an aggressive message to an emphasis on previous success. The SEIU membership is divided; can the Governator conquer?


patient renter said...

disguising wage cuts as unpaid "furloughs."

Hehe. I got a nice chuckle out of that. I don't think the governor is trying to disguise anything - it's an obvious paycut. Workers will take home less at the end of the month. Where's the disguise?

can the Governator conquer?

Seems like he'll have to.

Anonymous said...

Draging state employees into the problem.... like we don't use the budget to pay them or something?


Anonymous said...

"Draging state employees into the problem.... like we don't use the budget to pay them or something?"

ok, I'll bite. I'll take a pay cut. And I'm sure all non-govt-employee tax payers in CA will be happy to donate some extra tax money to help solve the problem too.

Behind that all the stereotypes of govt employees sitting on their asses playing solitaire all day are some actual hard working people who don't deserve a pay cut any more than any other resident of the state.

Max said...

disguising wage cuts as unpaid "furloughs."

Yeah, the vitriol in the SEIU newsletters is something to behold. This year they beat up and insulted every politician, then claimed "victory" after getting some paltry raise. The whole SEIU is a joke.

Anonymous said...

8:46 anon

Dude - took that pay cut for the past 2 years.... it IS your turn.

I'm not sayn they all sit on it, just get irritated at the fluff, the large pensions, all the Lexi in the faculty parking lots, the 75% transit subsidy, the training ..., the six figure UC salaries

I've worked at large and small private companies. A semi regular 10-20% house cleaning would help them also... not just govt.


Deflationary Jane said...


The problem is that when they cut, it's the worker bees that loose their jobs first, not the folks we'd all like to get rid off.

Just look at the UCD jobs board: the only positions left open are in the 150K+ range.

However, if you really want to start getting rid of high-paid flotsum, I have a list I'd gladly share with y'all >; )

Anonymous said...

Many years ago I was a contractor installing computer and telephone systems for the State before Pete Wilson cut the program and I'll never forget the job we had at the PUC building on Van Ness in San Francisco. These folks would literally get new computers every year and they were all networked together (which was a big deal at the time) and all they would ever do was play network hearts or solitaire on them all day long. This is not stereotype unfortunately.

Sometimes we would show up to move one group of folks from one floor to another, and then a few months later we would move them back. I asked the building manager about this absurdity and he simply said that he was trying to burn up the budget so he could get it renewed the next year. Often I would see "workers" wandering around aimlessly in the building - the building manager referred to these zombies as "deadwood". One gal had a coffee cup and a pair of slippers and I would see her on one floor just walking slowly down the hallways and then she would show up on other floors just wandering around. Never talked to anybody or did anything as far as I could tell - just shuffled around the building in her slippers all day. I have no idea how much she was getting paid but whatever it was, it was way too much.

What I discovered over the five years of working at the various state buildings is you have a core group of extremely hard workers that basically do all the actual work, and tons and tons of deadwood that do nothing and leech off the system. There is much more expectation of performance and ability to weed out the deadwood in the private sector. All we need to do is (somehow) find and get rid of the deadwood army and keep the good workers and we should be able to balance the budget.

Maybe the state should get an independent external auditor like in the movie "Office Space" and just call everyone in and find out what they are actually doing, and if the answer is "nothing" then give them the axe.

patient renter said...

all they would ever do was play network hearts or solitaire on them all day long. This is not stereotype unfortunately.

I know it's not. My recent contracting for the state brought me into contact with more than enough professional solitaire players, on 22" flat screen monitors, of course. But you're right about there being a core group of hard workers, they're just not in the majority from what I personally saw.

All we need to do is (somehow) find and get rid of the deadwood army and keep the good workers and we should be able to balance the budget.

The only way to guarantee that government runs efficiently is to limit its responsibilities. Government administered anything will always always always always always be more wasteful and less efficient than the alternative. So common sense should tell us less government is the best course of action. Expecting government to realistically manage its excesses is silly.

Max said...

All we need to do is (somehow) find and get rid of the deadwood army and keep the good workers and we should be able to balance the budget.

Forgive me for saying this, but: Ha! There's absolutely no way you can balance the state budget through staff reductions. Entitlement and K-12 spending is where it's at. Firing all state employees will only save $20 billion per year.

State workers are a convenient(and deserving) scapegoat, but there won't be a balanced budget unless actual spending is cut or taxes are increased.

Politically, I don't think there's any way state workers get out of this without a concession. They're the most visible part of the state bureaucracy, and cutting salaries or staff levels will help make other cuts more palatable to voters.

Anonymous said...

Max, you could be underestimating the negative effect that CALPERS (employee related costs) will have on the budget. Anderson now says that we will be $42B in the hole, as opposed to the rosy $15B that Arnie suggests!!

Surely this must be due in part to the huge CALPERS losses recently? BTW, you'll get no argument from me about reducing entitlements and K-12 spending. Ironically, the K-12 spending in CA is larger than any other states entire budget, yet the CTA is running ads non-stop screaming for more money! They (CTA) better take a good hard look at what is happening with the UAW and decide if they want to go down that road as well.,-Bernanke,-Gettlefinger-Here-It-Comes!.html

patient renter said...

Local education/school districts are pretty similar to any other aspect of government. Waste abounds.

It was just reported the other day that the LA Unified school district bought out the last year of their superintendant's contract for half a mil. One of our own local school districts bought out the last year (or 2, can't remember) of their former superintendant's contract for 1 mil, and this was a tiny district.