Willie Brown: State of the Unions


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Willie Brown is worried about union power in California…

Willie Brown is calling for an “honest dialogue” on California’s public employee unions.  Brown, the former San Francisco mayor and longtime Speaker of the California Assembly, has pointed out the obvious – that our civil servants now “[run] the show” in California.  They have “job security for life” and “pushed by our friends in labor, gradually expanded pay and benefits to private-sector levels while keeping the job protections and layering on incredibly generous retirement packages that pay ex-workers almost as much as current workers”.  Standing against them, says Brown, is “politically unpopular and potentially even career suicide for most officeholders”.

Willie Brown made the following comments in his San Francisco Chronicle column:

If we as a state want to make a New Year’s resolution, I suggest taking a good look at the California we have created. From our out-of-sync tax system to our out-of-control civil service, it’s time for politicians to begin an honest dialogue about what we’ve become.

Take the civil service.

The system was set up so politicians like me couldn’t come in and fire the people (relatives) hired by the guy they beat and replace them with their own friends and relatives.

Over the years, however, the civil service system has changed from one that protects jobs to one that runs the show.

The deal used to be that civil servants were paid less than private sector workers in exchange for an understanding that they had job security for life.

But we politicians, pushed by our friends in labor, gradually expanded pay and benefits to private-sector levels while keeping the job protections and layering on incredibly generous retirement packages that pay ex-workers almost as much as current workers.

Talking about this is politically unpopular and potentially even career suicide for most officeholders. But at some point, someone is going to have to get honest about the fact that 80 percent of the state, county and city budget deficits are due to employee costs.

Either we do something about it at the ballot box, or a judge will do something about in Bankruptcy Court. And if you think I’m kidding, just look at [the bankrupt city of ] Vallejo.


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