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Local 21 EXPRESS
February 2016

San Jose:
Work Begins on Implementing Legal, Sensible Retirement Reform 


In approving a recently negotiated settlement to San Jose's illegal Measure B, City Councilman Ash Kalra exclaimed, "San Jose's long civic nightmare is over."  In tweaking a famous quote from former President Gerald Ford, Kalra summed up labor's years-long fight with the City of San Jose over worker benefits.  Since pension-cutting Measure B's passage in June 2012, City employee unions and the city have been sparring in superior court and at the state’s Public Employment Relations Board.  Due to the hard work of Local 21 members and others, recently-elected San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo was forced to settle. Part of former Mayor Chuck Reed’s attempt to eliminate vested rights and gut the pension benefits of San Jose city employees, the drastic cuts Measure B imposed led to high employee turnover, undermined new employee recruitment efforts, and forced severe cutbacks in community services.  

These dire consequences, combined with favorable rulings for the labor in the courts and at the state Public Employee Relations Board – led to a much improved settlement framework on Measure B.  After last-minute wrangling over the city's reimbursement of labor’s legal expenses, the non-public safety unions, which includes Local 21, signed a tentative agreement in late November. Local 21 members in our AEA, AMSP and CAMP chapters approved the agreement in early December, and on Dec. 15, the San Joe City Council signed off on the deal.  Negotiators of the settlement agreement acknowledged the need to reduce city expenses while maintaining benefits for employees so that San Jose remains a competitive employer in talent-rich Silicon Valley.  The settlement framework creates a competitive Tier 2 retirement package for newer hires. It also protects Tier 1 retiree healthcare benefits and creates a lower-cost healthcare benefit for Tier 2 workers, which Tier 1 employees can opt into if they choose.  With this settlement in place, the hard work of improving employee compensation, recruiting and retaining talented public employees, and restoring city services moves to center stage.  


CEO of Santa Clara Valley Water District Ousted

Following a Santa Clara County District Attorney investigation, and numerous press reports about mismanagement, Beau Goldie has been forced out as the CEO of the Santa Clara Valley Water District. Goldie was a decades-long Water District employee who rose through the ranks, but his tenure as CEO was marked with rancor and hostility toward labor.  Goldie resigned Jan. 14.  The Board will rotate the interim post among chiefs while it searches for a new CEO. Read more details about the action here and here. District employees -- including members of Local 21's ES and PMA chapters – applaud Goldie’s departure and look forward to a new CEO who will act transparently and value the district’s employees.  

Union Representative Dons Another Cap: School Board Member

As if this hard-charging union organizer and negotiator didn’t have enough on his plate, Jonathan T. Wright, Local 21's lead staff representative in Contra Costa County, is taking on another responsibility: school board member.On Feb. 1, the married, 35-year-old Wright was sworn in as the newest member of the Martinez Unified School District Board. In some ways it’s a post Wright has been groomed for his entire life. Both his parents are retired educators from the Mount Diablo Unified School District. But after moving to Martinez from Concord in August 2014, his interest in getting more involved with his adopted hometown was piqued after taking in the annual Alhambra Homecoming Parade. Wright and his wife were stunned at the turnout, with students from the elementary and middle schools all joining in the celebration.“ That blew us away, seeing how integral the high school is to everyday life in Martinez,” Wright told a local newspaper. “It was one of those defining moments in my life where we knew we had come to the right place, and I want to do everything I can to honor that.” A union organizer and negotiator with more than 15 years of professional experience, Wright will serve out the unexpired term of a board member who resigned in December. The term ends in November at which time Wright will have to run in an election to keep the seat. 

Wright was up against seven other candidates, including former school board trustees. But after interviews, Wright garnered six of the possible 12 votes cast by the four remaining board members.“I think the board made an excellent choice,” Martinez Superintendent of Schools Rami Muth said after the vote. “Jonathan was articulate, well versed on the issues facing Martinez schools, and someone who seems passionate about ensuring all students receive a high quality education. I am looking forward to working with him.” Wright’s union turf covers roughly 1,000 Local 21 members. In conjunction with top-notch member leadership, Wright led recent healthcare negotiations that resulted in a reduction of out-of-pocket expenses for the first time in years, and has held the county accountable for violations of not only the Local 21 contract, but California labor law as well. Wright’s new school board post dovetails nicely with his personal ambitions. “I don’t have kids, but I’m planning on starting a family very soon and want my kids to attend quality, neighborhood-oriented schools,” he said.

 

 
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