Union Targeting City Management

Katy Grimes: With Wisconsin’s Governor and Republican legislators trying to repeal the state’s collective bargaining law for public-employee unions, as well as requiring state workers to pay some of their pension costs, Sacramento’s former head of labor relations, Dee Contreras, is now trying to organize a labor union of city managers and other highly-compensated administrative workers.

The practice of former city managers and upper management city executives crossing over to the other side of the negotiating table appears to be growing, despite the strong push back by voters and private sector.

Contreras retired in December right before her department was consolidated into the city’s human resources department.

Targeting upper management, assistant city managers, investigators, administrative analysts and staff aides, as well as the city attorney, a list of the jobs that Contreras plans on including in the new union are available here.

This latest attempt to unionize 677 city management leaves precious few in the city to look after the interests of the poor, hapless taxpayers who will have to pay the extra and excessive costs when the managers and administrators are also unionized.

Contreras also announced that she will serve as the staffer for the Sacramento City Exempt Employees Association, during the campaign to unionize top managers and administrative staff reported the Sacramento Press.

And it was reported that while she represented the city as Labor Relations director, Contreras said that she worked for unions in the past, including the Service Employees International Union.

My CalWatchdog colleague John Seiler wrote about the Wisconsin union protests, and said, “Collective bargaining is a key issue because it gives unions immense clout in negotiating with state and local governments. Unions and government employees insist that it is their right to organize and present a united front to the government. The catch, though, is that they are the government. Collective bargaining in the private sector means that labor sits one side of the table and management, such as at GM or Ford, sits on the other side. That’s different from government, where the unions sit on the labor side of the table — but also, by electing pliant politicians to power in state houses, city councils and school boards, sits on the management side.”

Contreras may find protestors soon objecting to her ridiculous attempt to unionize management – even Californians are growing weary of union peddling and the growing disparity between government pay, benefits and unsustainable pensions.

FEB. 19, 2011


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  1. David from Oceanside
    David from Oceanside 20 February, 2011, 10:28

    Public Employee Unions must be abolished. I heard an ex city councilman of El Segundo in an interview state the cities average cost per firefighter is over $168,000.00 per year. That is the average cost of a standard firefighter and does not include the fire captains.

    If firefighting were privatized, the market rate for a firefighter would quickly be made known. Their skill set is somewhere between a carpenter and an Electrician. Accordingly their pay would probably be in a range of between $48,000.00 and $55,000.00. Add to that employers contribution to a 401K, health insurance, social security, workman’s comp etc and the burden to taxpayers would be around $65,000.00.

    That means the rent seeking gained by the public employee unions through their corrupted politicians cost the taxpayers around $100,000.00 per year per firefighter. Imagine that, $100K.

    Reply this comment
  2. ExPFC Wintergreen
    ExPFC Wintergreen 21 February, 2011, 22:53

    Not so sure the public is growing weary, especially when the public employee union activists, as we have seen this last week in Wisconsin, are willing to get violent in order to harass and intimidate anyone with a contrary view. In the face of this, most will retreat. At most, they will want to be “pragmatic” and try to “compromise” with those who want nothing of the sort. Who do expect loses this fight? In the case of teachers, they are very good at making this fight “for the children” even though they are destroying the future of those same children

    Reply this comment
  3. PublicSafetyProject.org
    PublicSafetyProject.org 18 July, 2011, 18:19

    See the Public Safety Project web site (PublicSafetyProject.org) for more information on how firefighter and police unions are pushing cities in California down the road towards bankruptcy and loss of vital services:

    See the El Segundo City Employee Payroll web page at:


    The compensation data posted does not yet include the pension and benefits data. That data will be posted in the near future.

    Public Safety Project

    Reply this comment
  4. PublicSafetyProject.org
    PublicSafetyProject.org 18 July, 2011, 18:49

    The City of Bell, California is not unique in its city employee compensation scandal. Other California cities have much higher compensation for their union employees, especially their firefighter and police union employees, and their managers who get big raises to avoid “salary compaction” when the unions get big raises.

    The calendar year 2009 maximum and average total compensation (including pension contributions and benefits cost) for all 56 city of El Segundo, California sworn firefighters, including management, were $357,669 and $213,209. The maximum and average CalPERS pension contributions paid by the city per sworn firefighter were $83,594 and $43,124. These figures do not reflect large raises received during the recession in 2010.

    The calendar year 2009 maximum and average total compensation (including pension contributions and benefits cost) for all 64 city of El Segundo, California sworn police officers, including management, were $552,189 and $184,635. The maximum and average CalPERS pension contributions paid by the city per sworn firefighter were $ 77,274.66 and $66,811.45. These figures do not reflect large raises received during the recession in 2010.

    “Former El Segundo Police Chief David Cummings, who retired in 2009 with about eleven weeks left in the year, had total 2009 compensation of about $596,657, including his city contract and CalPERS pension income while he continued working as the El Segundo Police Chief after his retirement. Cummings’ post-retirement City employment contract acknowledged that he would be receiving his $210,000 per year CalPERS pension income while he continued working as the City’s police chief after his retirement.”

    Michael D. Robbins
    Former El Segundo, California City Councilman
    Public Safety Project

    Highest Paid El Segundo City Employee in 2009:


    Public Safety Project

    Reply this comment
  5. PublicSafetyProject.org
    PublicSafetyProject.org 8 June, 2012, 03:25

    On April 10, 2012, the voters of the City of El Segundo, California, handed the city’s firefighter union a startling electoral defeat.

    El Segundo residents voted overwhelmingly, by 90 percent, against Measure P, the firefighter union’s initiative to hijack the city’s local fire department to maximize and lock-in the firefighters’ salaries and job security.

    Measure P would have disbanded the city’s local fire department, and forced the city to contract with the Los Angeles County Fire Department for a greatly reduced level of fire and paramedic services.

    Measure P would have permanently eliminated the city’s three paramedic ambulances, forcing residents to rely on distant out-of-town ambulance companies with greatly increased hospital transport times and fees.

    Measure P would have likely resulted in increased loss of life. The city has few fires and mostly paramedic calls. There are typically zero, one, or two major structure fires (with $100,000 or more in damage) per
    year, and none have been residential in the last three years. In contrast, there are between 700 and 800 paramedic ambulance hospital transports per year.

    The El Segundo Firefighters’ Association (ESFFA), the firefighters’ labor union, collected Measure P initiative petition signatures by lying to voters, telling them they must sign the petition to preserve the local city fire department when the opposite was true.

    The firefighters probably spent more than $100,000 in support of Measure P, including use of a professional campaign manager, an attorney, a lawsuit against the city, and at least three propaganda “push” telephone polls. In contrast, I and other residents ran a very low cost, but extremely effective, long and sustained grassroots campaign against Measure P. The results were spectacular.

    Under Measure P, the El Segundo city firefighters would have been transferred to become Los Angeles County Fire Department employees, with their salaries unchanged, even though they would have been paid significantly more than the other L.A. County firefighters. The city would have been forced to pay for their excessive salaries and benefits and would have lost all control over those costs.

    The city would have also lost control over the quality of fire department services. The firefighters would have reported to a remote L.A. County fire chief in the city of Gardena, and would not have been accountable to any city official.

    In other election results, the two city council candidates endorsed and funded by the El Segundo Police Officers’ Association (ESPOA), the city’s police labor union, were defeated even though the spent significantly more money than the independent candidates.

    One of the police union candidates, Cindy Mortesen, came in second to last place out of eight candidates running for three city council seats. The other police union candidate, Scott Houston, came in fourth place, even though he ran for city council in 2010 and had been campaigning continuously for two and a half years.

    The fact that Measure P and Mortesen and Houston were backed by the city’s firefighter and police unions was a central theme of the campaign against them, together with disclosing and widly publicizing the firefighter and police union salaries, benefits, and pension contributions paid for by the city’s taxpayers.

    Firefighter, police, teacher, and other government employee “associations” are actually labor unions that engage in collective bargaining with the politicians they endorsed and supported with monetary and in-kind contributions. They endorse and support the candidates will give them the biggest raises and raise taxes and fees to pay for it.

    Thus, their is an inherent and unavoidable conflict of interest when government employees are allowed to unionized and engage in collective bargaining with the elected officials whose campaigns they supported.

    This conflict of interest cannot be eliminated by restrictions on political campaigning, which is political free speech protected by the First Amendment. Therefore, the only workable solution to prevent city, county, and state government bankruptcy is to abolish all government employee unions and collective bargaining, by repealing the laws that allowed them and enacting laws to explicitly prohibit them.

    This will protect the taxpayers, property owners, and residents. It will also protect the government employee union members and their pensions from themselves and their union bosses. A smaller percentage of something is better than a larger percentage of nothing.

    Michael D. Robbins
    Former El Segundo City Councilman
    Director, Public Safety Project
    El Segundo, California

    Official web site:

    YouTube video web page:

    Reply this comment
  6. PublicSafetyProject.org
    PublicSafetyProject.org 8 June, 2012, 03:41

    Here is the corrected link for the official Public Safety Project web site:


    Reply this comment

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