The SEIU View

Wednesday, October 30, 2013
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In response to Mrs. Wiscomb’s comment, “It was union influence that got the city into financial difficulty,” it’s interesting that Mrs. Wiscomb had interviewed for endorsement consideration with SEIU Local 620, though she does not mention that fact, as did Frank Hotchkiss. Neither were approved by the group. It is likely they interviewed with other labor groups as well.

It’s time the public is given the perspective of the working class people. General employees for the City of Santa Barbara earn an average pay of $47,700 per year. They pay their maximum allowed by law into their retirement. They pay $664.00 per month for their family medical insurance, soon to go up another $200.00 per month in 2014. This is more than a week’s wage for the workers. The workers have NOT had a raise in FOUR YEARS; in three of the four years, their pay was reduced a total of 14.5 percent. The workers earn the same pay they were receiving four years ago, though they take home less because of severe increases to their medical coverage cost and retirement contribution. At an average of $47,700 per year, these workers are NOT going to retire wealthy.

Frank Hotchkiss is running in a campaign platform stating that he is responsible for reducing the pay of the employees. Mr. Hotchkiss gives NO recognition to the over 800 City employees who gave up 14.5 percent of their pay.

As a point of order, it takes at least four votes on the City Council for anything to be approved. Mr. Hotchkiss cannot take any more credit for this than anyone else who was part of the process. Mr. Hotchkiss is proud of the fact people are working harder, and doing with less, though he gives NO recognition to the workers who are actually doing the work. Mr. Hotchkiss gives NO recognition to the labor unions, who in good faith bargained the furlough pay for their workers to help the City.

Business owners in the City of Santa Barbara should be appalled that the Council has repressed the city workers’ pay. They are hurting their own economy. The City is the largest employer in the city. The restaurant business is big in the City of Santa Barbara. When workers don’t have money, they bring their lunch to work. With no disposable income, people don’t go shopping. The citizens have had two rate hikes on their utility bills, while the workers have not had a raise. Yes, Mr. Hotchkiss was a part of this as well.

SEIU does not negotiate the pay for the $100,000 club, which the News-Press writes about. What the News-Press is not telling the citizens, from the City Council down to the workers, is that there are five levels of management who run the city. In some divisions there are six levels of management. Yes five to six levels of management, for the grass to be cut at the parks, for the harbor maintenance, for the person to take your money at the parking garage. On and on it goes. All these managers make $100,000+ per year. They are not represented by any labor union. Though the News-Press would have you believe SEIU Local 620 represents all city workers, only the highest profitable companies have this many levels of management. Mrs. Wiscomb mentions nothing about the multi levels of management, and all their high pay, and retirement.

To Mrs. Wiscomb, and everyone else: What is the problem with city workers supporting those running for Council and Mayor? We are residents and registered voters too.

The workers want qualified, quality people to run the city, a Council that is good for the business community, good for the environment, good for the citizens, and good for city business. Yes, we work here, live here, and we care who is running the government. We are proud of the politicians we are endorsing: Helene Schneider, Bendy White, Gregg Hart, and Megan Diaz Alley.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Wondering if Hotchkiss and Wiscomb have the courage to respond to this thoughtful rebuttal of their electioneering BS?! C'mon Frank, you wrote a long blathering letter about the homeless recently, answer these City workers... and no, they aren't in that $100,000 club you like to rant about.
Step to the plate, Mrs. Wiscomb!

DrDan (anonymous profile)
October 30, 2013 at 4:16 a.m. (Suggest removal)

As demonstrated by the guns and hoses coalition, labor union endorsements hold little weight in the city council elections. The issue for the city that has been the biggest problem is not the salaries, but the pensions. The one question I would ask is how these salaries compare to those in private industry.

Botany (anonymous profile)
October 30, 2013 at 6:15 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Just how do you compare salaries and pensions of the "guns and hoses coalition" to the private sector? Just curious, being that the private sector is not required to put their lives in immediate danger of injury or death at a moments notice. Just how do you compare the two??

Just asking because it seems those that constantly want to judge every benefit by the private sector standard have never risked more than money in lives.

Validated (anonymous profile)
October 30, 2013 at 5:04 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Are members of the guns and hoses coalition members of the SEIU? If not, your remarks are completely irrelevant.

Botany (anonymous profile)
October 30, 2013 at 5:50 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Of course is was union influence that got us into these financial difficulties. Even the most casual of city watchers could see this coming. Promises were made by councils members who had been backed and paid for with city employee union money to even get elected.

Employees would stage "blue flu's", or show up in uniform to intimidate and use their large political war chests for political influence to make sure they got far more than their fair share of city revenues. Year, after year after year.

When your biggest city expense are personnel costs and those personnel are virtually all union members, you bet there was union influence that got this city into this mess. This city who screams sustainability down to banning plastic bags and a bloated environmental services department doing make work micro-managing all our lives, in fact is a fiscally-unsustainable mess.

When $200 million plus are the city's unfunded pension liabilities, which city council majorities ran those up? You only had Democratic, progressive and union-backed city councils now for decades save for a two year window when sanity started to prevail.

When you have a $200 million backlog of city infrastructure maintenance, you yet again have union influence demanding any increased city revenues go to union members and not to city bricks and mortar.

How dare the unions take anyone other than themselves to task for putting this city in this unsustainable situation where $400 million in unfunded liabilities were left to accumulate.

Whether it is the POA, or fire or SEIU, you are all in this mess together and you had better work to fix it this time instead of sabotaging yet again any and all efforts to get this city back on track and out of these unfunded city liabilities.

Let see your next staged bad-morale rally that would always shake the city down for more, more, more while the rest of city residents get only a few left over crumbs.

SEIU is only ticked off now because they kept getting less, when having to go against the more powerful and influential police and fire unions. But mark my word, they are in for a dime and in for a dollar. $100K jobs, plenty of paid days off and plush retirement is never enough. It is always more, more, more while this city's revenues are going down the tube because too many union-backed city councils have stuck a fork in this city's economic vitality.

No one wants to go to war with city staff over any of this, but the unions constant stream of demands and political influence funding to get favored council members for their own benefit has let this city go to hell in a hand basket over these past few years.

My advice to the city employee unions: Your one and only time to function is to get the best deal you can within proper city budgeting and allocation priorities at the time contracts are up for renewal. And stay the heck away from influencing city politics for your sole benefit at all other times.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
October 30, 2013 at 10:46 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Darn scary when the unions try to influence who they will be negotiating with in future contracts for themselves Vote for our guys because we want them to deliver for us.

The past four years have been tough on everyone. You can't use go-go years as your pay benchmarks and then complain you took a "pay cut" when all it was was adjusting to the new financial realities everyone is now facing.

Get out of your cocoon SEIU, and say thank you that your people even have jobs. The reality was if you didn't want your members to be on the firing line, they had to take pay cuts. You can't keep having it both ways.

Start reading the Wall Street Journal, instead of the Independent for your financial news.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
October 30, 2013 at 10:51 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Don't be misled by "average" salaries and fail to include at least $10,000 in benefits, dozens of paid days off, little review or accountability for performance because you can't get fired, and pensions that let public employees live like millionaires when they retire, just creaming off the interest.

foofighter (anonymous profile)
October 30, 2013 at 10:54 p.m. (Suggest removal)

See Lesley Wiscomb's response to the "SEIU View" in the Letters section.

RealDeal (anonymous profile)
October 31, 2013 at 7:56 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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