Letters to the Editor

VIEWPOINT: Mayor’s stand on union pay a morale buster

Although my daughter is a member of the San Luis Obispo Police Department, I have tried to not become involved in the disagreements between the city and the unions.

A recent letter on the upcoming city ballot measures that I received from Jan Howell Marx, however, deserves comment from one former elected official to a present one.

I refer to the paragraph:

“If these measures do not pass, the city’s condition will deteriorate over time, as most of the general fund will be bled by increasingly higher public safety salaries and skyrocketing retired pension costs. Less and less funding will be available for residents’ priorities, like road maintenance, provision of parks and recreation programs, neighborhood code enforcement, senior services or preservation of open space. Ironically, the more dollars each individual firefighter or police officer costs, the fewer we can afford to keep on our streets. Many cities are laying off public safety employees, just for this reason. We do not want to go there.”

Really? So, the police and fire personnel in SLO are so greedy and thoughtless that they will bleed the city dry? Whatever happened to the proposal that these unions have made, this year, to the city that they will not ask for salary increases and are willing to negotiate over pension costs? Does this sound like greed?

In fact, I believe they have not had a salary increase since the arbitrator’s decision, which, by the way was not the decision of the unions. For the city to prevent further instances of going to binding arbitration is for the city to negotiate in good faith through the collective bargaining process.

As an aside, binding arbitration has already gone to a vote of the people, and they voted it in — not the unions.

One of the very best ways for an elected official to cause a morale crisis among employees is to denigrate them in public and, in fact, by doing so you could be cited for creating a hostile work environment. It does no good to hide behind the fact that you are speaking, or in this case writing, as a private citizen.

It indicates a rather low level of respect, regardless of what is otherwise said. And, frankly, I’m surprised that the other city employees aren’t looking over their shoulders, wondering when you will turn on them next.

It would seem to me that all California local governments have more of a revenue problem than a spending one. Perhaps it would be more productive for Citizens for SLO to spend time and energy working for the passage of statewide tax increases to generate more revenue than to disparage your public safety personnel.

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