A small band of Vallejoans are opposing Vallejo’s Public Safety Unions over a crucial 8th of Jun ballot measure, and they will square off in a forum at 6 p.m. this Thursday, May 20, at the Vallejo Naval & Historical Museum.
CitizensForVallejo.org, the grassroots organization endorsing -Yes on Measure A, wants to convince Vallejo voters to support Measure A, which if approved would remove Binding (Interest) Arbitration from the Vallejo City Charter.
“Binding Arbitration was a key factor in Vallejo being forced to file for bankruptcy,” explained Vallejo Councilmember Joanne Schivley. “Non-elected individuals-arbitrators- interfered with our tax dollars and required us to pay our employees more than we could afford. And even when Binding Arbitration wasn’t triggered during city employee union contract negotiations, the threat was always there-a gamble many councils refused to take.”
“A 2003 California Supreme Court ruled that Binding Arbitration for employee contract negotiation is ‘taxation without representation’. That’s why the 480 general law cities don’t use it. Because Vallejo is a charter city, we have to get rid of it ourselves. And we will, with a yes on Measure A,” stated Kim White, a Vallejo resident and supporter of Yes on Measure A.
Opponents of Measure A, which include well-funded Vallejo Police and Fire Unions, want Binding Arbitration to remain on the Vallejo City Charter.
“It’s not surprising they want to keep it, given it has resulted in the current excessive levels Vallejo compensates its employee unions,” said Councilmember Stephanie Gomes.
In 2009, 189 of Vallejo’s public safety employees earned more than $100,000 a year, with the highest at an astounding $312,000. And none of this includes sizable health and retirement benefits.
According to the website CaliforniaPensionReform.com, 46 retired police & firefighters pull in pensions in excess of $100,000, and a retired firefighter is at the very top of all Vallejo pensioners with $197,000 annually.
“We simply can’t afford these unsustainable salaries, benefits and pensions,” Gomes confirmed. “It is bankrupting our city.”