Saturday, May 23, 2009

Confusion is Everywhere

Just when you think you think you know what you think they mean when they imposed their "Last, Best and Final" offer for a contract and you have made life changing decision based on what you thought you understood you find out that what you thought was not what they meant or what they said. Did you get that? I'm confused too. I was reading the SDPOA Blog this afternoon and caught a post from a member who was obviously upset about this same thing.

The post starts; "I hope I am not the only one but I find this whole issue of Retiree Medical Benefits very confusing. On one hand we are told our future medical benefits are capped at $740. Many of us have had to make life changing decisions based on this. Now we are being told the COLA alone is being frozen for two years." I pulled out the papers I received when we all met at the SDPOA to hear the news of what the mayor was going to cram down our throat. The papers I have clearly indicate the COLA for Retiree Medical was going to be frozen at $740. I believe it was stated on more than one occasion and by more than one person, this is NOT a temporary freeze, but a permanent freeze. This was re-enforced by the analysis offered by Mark Sullivan showing what the freeze to this COLA would mean to the member over years.

I re-read what Jeff Jordon posted regarding the meeting the SDPOA Board had with the City on Thursday. Jeff said the meeting; "primarily addressed our new litigation involving DROP age at 55 and the interest rate change, along with potential litigation over retiree medical if the City moves forward with the changes in their Last Best and Final Offer." Jeff went on to explain discussion regarding Retiree Medical. Jeff wrote; "They also made it very clear that it is unlikely that changes will be made to the retiree health care language already contained in their LBFO.  Per the City, they are arguing that nobody is harmed by this agreement, because they could choose to stay and that the automatic COLA on retiree health is only "suspended" for the next two years.  This suspension could be lifted and they would not be harmed if agreements are reached on this issue in the future.  It is only until the COLA is actually eliminated that they will be harmed and able to litigate per the City." I would argue the moment I did not receive a COLA for my Retiree Medical I have been harmed. I don't think I need to wait two years of harm to know I was harmed. But that's just me.

OK, so I thought I understood what the "Last, Best and Final" offer for a contract was when presented to us. I thought it was clear to everyone present; this was a permanent freeze of the amount of money ($740) the City was going to provide Retirees. It now appears this is not correct. Could it be Jeff just miss-spoke when he wrote this short synopsis of the meeting with the City? Could it be the City back-peddling in an attempt to cover its ass? Could it be they are just confused? Maybe I am confused!

The post I was first talking about goes on; "WTF!!! Why were we not informed of this language? Was this in the original impasse imposition or is this something that was just now changed? I am tired of being F(*&(&(&(K'd with! WHAT IS GOING ON?? It appears to me the wonderful city we all work for is doing their best, and doing a wonderful job of it too, to cause as much confusion, hatred, and discontent with our employment so we decide to abandon ship. Was this all just a strategy worked up by our Mayor? It would seem so. Somebody clear this up for me."

I have fielded a dozen calls about this change and honestly do not have an answer for you. I am as confused as the person who posted in the SDPOA Blog. The confusion is creating anger, frustration and more lost hope. People are angry because they do not believe they have all the information necessary to make the life changing decisions many are struggling still to make. People are frustrated because they can't seem to get straight answers to their questions. People are losing hope because the cut-off date to make their decision is fast approaching and there is no sign of honest answers.

The last line of Jeff's post may be the most telling of all. Jeff closes with the following; "People that are looking to preserve their retiree health care as it exists now, should continue to meet with their financial advisors and their families to determine what is right for them." Maybe it's not as confusing as we are making it out to be. The mayor has clearly shown his hand and is hell bent on TAKING. He is not going to give anything back to us and as the economy continues to swirl in the toilet, the sign of anything good coming of retiree medical is not good. Thanks mayor for the caring, honest, support you have shown over the years.


Dee said...

I honestly don't know how he can get away with capping our retiree medical, especially those of us who will NOT be eligible for Medicare!

Isn't this a breach of contract with the Feds? Or does anybody care??

I guess I'll hafta find another job when I retire just to get Medicare, or go live on the streets a few years after I retire!

So does this mean Sanders can do whatever he #%&* well pleases?!

Anonymous said...

Confusion or not the bottom line is the city is going to be in worse shape, financially speaking, over the next few years.

THIS CAN ONLY MEAN MORE TAKE-AWAY ARE ON THE HORIZON.With the recent defeat of the slate of state props the govenator will be force to raid funds destined to the city to make up some of the shortfall.

Our economy is still fragile and consumer confidence will not be back to its 2007 levels for some time.

The pension system took losses too and at the end of June we get the first official numbers and A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF THE CITY'S MANDATORY CONTRIBUTION.

All of these will have a substantial NEGATIVE impact on the General Fund, i.e. the PD's budget. The City has already admitted it revenue projections are WAY TO OPTIMISTIC and more cuts are NECESSARY THIS YEAR BEFORE JULY.

Each and everyone of you eligible to retire now MUST carefully weigh this information along with INCOMPLETE info coming from the POA as interpretaions made by City Management.

One thing I feel certain about. If I could manage to lift Jerry Sanders off the ground I might be able to toss him a couple of inches. That's how much I trust this man. Now you'll have to decide how much you'll trust him.

Anonymous said...

One other thought on this situation AND the people involved.

Let's say for the sake of our discussion there was a miscommunication between the parties about the retiree medical cap.

Why hasn't it be clarified? Please don't try to me the City didn't know the POA was confused. Even if the City didn't know the POA was confused, when the POA published information about the impacts of the cap on the website, didn't the City Labor Relations office have an ethical duty to correct the misconception?

Let's examine the previous behavior. When Labor Relations believed there was a misunderstanding regarding our existing MOU and the interest crediting rate for DROP accounts they quickly drafted a letter to the labor groups clarifying their position and, sent a representative to the March SDCERS Board meeting to make a public comment on the record.

So why would the city negotiators stand mute during bargaining? Would this be another example of bad faith bargaining? Is it ethical to say nothing when one side knows the other side has a misconception of their intentions?

Then after the Mayor convinced the Council to impose the contracts on the POA and Local 127, why wouldn't they correct the record immediately. Isn't this unethical behavior that could only be directed from Mayor's Office?

I sure hope Local 127 includes this newest information in an amended complaint to the State's Labor Relation Board on the issue of bad faith bargaining.

And what about our City Council? Is an investigation warranted regarding the ethical behavior of the Mayor's office during the negotiation and activities that led to their votes to impose this contract?

Finally, what was each councilmember's understanding of the Mayor's last final offer? Were they briefed as to the cap on retiree medical benefits being frozen for two years or did they believe, as the POA was led to believe, the cap was permanent?

Anonymous said...

If all of this is Greek to you, this article written by Rani Gupta, at the Voice of San Diego is a good overview.

Here is the link. You may need to cut and paste it into your browser if my html tag doesn't work.

sparky.sandiego said...

Dee; this whole issue is frustrating and sadly avoidable. There were many changes the mayor could and should have made before the drastic changes he did. My opinion is he did it to get the exact reaction he did; large exodus of experienced employees and their salaries. This mayor seems to believe and his actions bear this out; the laws and rules do not apply to him. He will do as he pleases; the law be damned and if the unions want to take him to court that is OK; he can tout to the taxpayer he tried and the all powerful unions are the problem and standing in the way of his so called reforms.

sparky.sandiego said...

Anonymous; I'm not sure how to reply or where to start. The City is going to be in worse shape in the coming months and over the next few years. This is why the mayor should have worked WITH the unions in seeking cuts that would make a difference. What the mayor has done over the past 5 months is akin to putting a band-aid on a femoral hemorrhage.

As far as you lifting the mayor off the ground; people do super human things when faces with extreme pressure and crisis; how bout someone throw him in the ocean?

Regarding your second post; I am not sure the City has an obligation to correct information the unions put out to members. If they were worried about THEIR reputation maybe they would; but in this case I will give my opinion. I do not believe the City had any intent of the freeze to retiree medical being for two years only for POA or 127. These two groups did not play ball with the mayor and thus, as history has shown he stuck it to them. The freeze was as written; a freeze forever. The change in my opinion came from the meeting on Thursday, May 21, when the City changed its stance knowing their intended reaction occurred and enough senior people drew papers to leave. I also think they underestimated the reaction of the police officers and had in their mind maybe 50-60 would leave. They were ill prepared for the 110 plus sworn and 30 plus civilian members of the police department who drew papers to leave.

I find it interesting the language being put out indicates a two year freeze. Under the law (MMBA) imposed contracts can only be for a one year period. The language alone makes them illegal. The imposition of a "two year freeze" in an imposed contract would, again in my opinion, make the imposed contract unfair and in conflict with current law. But then, who am I?

The letter to the bargaining units and SDCERS was another attempt at covering their collective asses. They no doubt fear a court ruling that could hinder their efforts. If a court were to rule DROP is a vested benefit; changes to the plan would have to be voted on by the members.

The council is receiving the same information the unions get. The mayor is keeping the same information from them and is not being honest in his dealings with the council. (In my opinion)

Time will tell. Until then more people will pull the plug and in the end the police department will be decimated.

sparky.sandiego said...

Anonymous; your link does not work and copying it does not work either. I looked at the three articles written by Gupta on the 17th of April and find no relevance to this discussion. Care to shed more light on what you are trying to put forth?

Anonymous said...

Here is the plain text version of the link:

I tested a copy and paste version of it and it worked.

Anonymous said...

You'll have to get it from the webpage, not the comment addition page to see the entire string.

sparky.sandiego said...

Anonymous; Thank you for the corrected link. This is all information we already know. The issue is the change that has come out after the Thursday meeting with the SDPOA and an indication from the City they never intended or did not say the freeze was permanent.

The interpretation of what was said during this meeting was the freeze was temporary and only to last two years. This is contrary to the LBFO jammed down our throats.

The bigger issue is the change and the impact on those who drew papers to leave believing the freeze was permanent.

People are clamoring for answers and there does not seem to be any coming.

Annoyed with it all said...

Why can't people put a name to their comments? "Anonymous" is so stupid. If you are that afraid click on the "name/url" and type in ""Scared" or "Chicken" or "Stupid" but come on folks, not anonymous it's so lame.

Outta here said...

I don't think there's that much confusion.... whether you call it "frozen"or "permanent" ..once he has taken it away, he has NO INTENTION of reinstating it. His henchmen will come up with an RMT that will then be either agreed to or imposed at that time.. If even Conger, who has a great track record, says this case is difficult at best, then I think the gamble of staying is too great a chance to take. I'm outta here..

Anonymous said...

Another interesting story published by the Voice of San Diego on Sunday...

Here is the plain text link that you'll have to copy and paste.

Anonymous said...

On another topic...

I read the Judge up in LA tossed Orange County Supervisor's 2nd amended complaint in their action against the Deputy Sheriff's and the 3 @ 50 controversy.

Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach, who launched the lawsuit and the amended complaint, said he’ll be asking his colleagues to stay the course and pursue an appeal through the state’s appellate courts and eventually the Supreme Court.

It seems after fifteen months and $1.7 million in outside legal counsel fees, their side has yet to show any progress on this misguided effort. Considering the county’s present fiscal crisis, the Supervisors should come to their senses and cut their losses. It's apparent they have no chance at all of winning this case.

This is more good news for us...Mr. Aguirre's litigation was based on some of the same theories.

Fed Up said...

This is ALL part of a bigger plan by Sanders to destroy the Police Department. He will stop at nothing and will lie, cheat, blame whatever it takes. He is a piece of excrement and have no place in politics. His people are doing just what he has told them to do; confuse, deny, lie, whatever it takes. Part of the plan. Sanders needs to go!