Guards' 'Sweetheart Deal' Hits Taxpayers

APRIL 21, 2011

By JOHN SEILER

In the midst of trying to convince Californians to boost their own taxes by $12 billion, Gov. Jerry Brown showed where his true priorities lie. As the Los Angeles Times reported on the deal he just worked out with the prison guards’ union:

The guards…would be able to save an unlimited number of vacation days under their new deal. When they leave state service, those days could be exchanged for cash at their final pay rate, which would probably be higher than when they earned the time off.

The guards’ union contributed $2 million to the governor’s election campaign last year.

“It’s a sweetheart deal,” Patrick Semmens told me; he’s Deputy Legal Information Director of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which works for workers’ rights against union power. “The union was able to put a lot of money into politics. It’s a straightforward political payoff to Jerry Brown.

“I was shocked,” Jack Dean said of the governors deal with the guards’ union; he runs the Pension Tsunami Web site, which monitors the immense cost of government-worker pensions. “The deal is not aimed at making any monetary goal, but at placating the unions. The taxpayer never seems to get a break. There’s a tendency, among Republicans as well as Democrats, to deal with a problem by raising taxes rather than cutting spending.”

Semmens added that Brown “seems more concerned about keeping union money funneled into his campaign, rather than the interests of the taxpayers. It shows why forced union dues should not be in politics. It shows how, when unions win, taxpayers lose.”

National Right to Work favors ending the coercion of unions automatically taking money from workers’ pay for political campaigns. In California, union members can get their money back only after a cumbersome process. And for government-worker unions, the union dues actually come from money taken from taxpayers.

In 2005, voters defeated Proposition 75, which would have given union workers the right to keep all the money of own paychecks, with political contributions becoming totally voluntary. According to Ballotpedia, “Prop. 75 was an example of a paycheck protection ballot measure. In 1998, another paycheck protection measure (Proposition 226) was on the ballot; it, too, was defeated.”

Prop. 75 lost by a fairly close margin, 54 percent to 46 percent. It was defeated only after a massive $54 million anti-75 campaign funded by the unions, compared to just $6 million spent by pro-75 reform forces. That was nearly a 10 to 1 ratio of pro-75 forces being outspent by anti-75 forces.

The guards union — officially the California Correctional Peace Officers Association — spent a total of $193,458 on anti-75 efforts.

The 2005 vote came at the height of the real-estate boom, when the budget was bursting with tax revenue, and before the pension crisis struck the state. A vote today on something similar to Prop. 75 might turn out differently.

“Once people are on the dole, they find it hard to get off,” Dean said of the well-compensated union workers. “It’s just the continual expansion of government.”

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  1. JoeS
    JoeS 21 April, 2011, 20:24

    Moonbeam is trying to make us think Arnold Kennedy Shriver was smart.

    Reply this comment
  2. Centurion
    Centurion 21 April, 2011, 22:27

    “The guards…would be able to save an unlimited number of vacation days under their new deal.”

    Hey. “The guards” earned those vacation days…and are often unable to use them due to staffing shortages which make it impossible for them to take all their earned time off. You think we should just take those vacation days back? Really?

    As for their retirement…”the guards” gave up major concessions in retirement computation…saving the state millions of dollars over their last several contracts…by raising the age at which they can retire, and decreasing the formuler by which their retirement can be computed.

    This is such a “swseetheart deal”, that…for the first time in history…there is a very real chance that the CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS (not guards), may not ratify the contract. Because, far from being a sweetheart deal…the general consensus is that it sucks.

    First the Bee, now Calwatchdog. Are you owned by McKlatchy as well?

    Reply this comment
  3. Centurion
    Centurion 21 April, 2011, 22:53

    I mean…times are tough. That’s understood. But an informed reading of the new proposed contract reflects that.

    No raise. (Wasn’t even asked for). Major retirement takebacks. The loss of two hollidays. Loss of a portion of the holliday pay computation.

    Most of the officers are not complaining. Most of them are sucking it up. They know the state is hurting. They know they have to give something back.

    What I find disheartening is the statement that these officers are “on the dole”…coupled with your dishonest and decietful implication that they have managed to get “a sweetheart contract”, when in fact…under this new proposed contract…they are giving up quite a bit.

    A reading of the old contract to compare with the new proposed contract would make this clear. But I guess you just didn’t have time for that.

    The Sacramento Bee printed a retraction of thier earlier article describing this as a “sweetheart deal.” Maybe you ought to read it.

    Or is that asking too much?

    Reply this comment
  4. David from Oceanside
    David from Oceanside 22 April, 2011, 05:51

    Centurion makes an impassioned defense of a state run prison system that costs twice as much per prison inmate as other states.

    Reply this comment
  5. Centurion
    Centurion 22 April, 2011, 07:06

    Wrong David.

    Centurion simply requests that the news media report the facts of the proposed contract and not print fabrications and falsehoods.

    Centurion retired from the Calirornia prison system four years ago. You’re right about it being overly expensive. I would agree that it is poorly run and mismanaged.

    But that’s another (although related) issue, isn’t it? This article was simply about the contract. That’s the only issue I addressed.

    I only ask that reporting of this contract be factually correct. And again…as with the Bee…I am dissapointed.

    Reply this comment
  6. Rex ther Wonder Dog!
    Rex ther Wonder Dog! 22 April, 2011, 12:23

    Hey. “The guards” earned those vacation days…and are often unable to use them due to staffing shortages which make it impossible for them to take all their earned time off. You think we should just take those vacation days back? Really?

    ================
    Then you can cash them out at the END OF THE YEAR, at the same rate they were earned at. The REAL question is why are $200K per year GED gov employees receiviong 8 friggen weeks of vacation time from day 1??

    The gravy trian ride is over trough feeder, deal with it.

    The jig is up.

    Reply this comment
  7. Rex ther Wonder Dog!
    Rex ther Wonder Dog! 22 April, 2011, 12:25

    As for their retirement…”the guards” gave up major concessions in retirement computation…saving the state millions of dollars over their last several contracts…
    =================
    You GED clowns are pathetic. You gave up NO concessions, none, zero, nada, nothing.

    IN FACT you received a 37% PAY RAISE over your 4 year contract with Davis, or 9% PER YEAR RAISES.

    Stop the spin trough feeder, it won’t work here.

    You have an unskilled GED jpob that virtually any HS grad could do in their sleep.

    Reply this comment
  8. Rex ther Wonder Dog!
    Rex ther Wonder Dog! 22 April, 2011, 12:27

    Centurion simply requests that the news media report the facts of the proposed contract and not print fabrications and falsehoods.

    ============
    Hey Pinnochio, you need to start taking your own advice.

    Reply this comment
  9. Centurion
    Centurion 22 April, 2011, 14:06

    Why make up “facts” Rex?

    Anyone willing to read the contract can easily see that:
    1) Officers don’t make $200k a year. They make roughly a third of that.
    2) If you can’t take your vacation time off due to under stffing, why shouldn’t you be compensated for it?
    3) 8 weeks vacation time? Not hardly. The new guys get less than half of that. Even the old timers don’t get 8 weeks vacation a year.
    4) Correctional Officers did indeed give up concessions on their retirement.

    These items are easily verified by looking at the old comntract and comparing with an accurate copy of the tennative agreement.

    You may think the proposed agreement is too generous. That’s your right. But why willifully misrepresent it Rex? Why continue to manufacture non existanf facts? Why the hatred?

    Is your parole agent giving you a hard time? Hmmmmmmmm????

    Reply this comment
  10. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 23 April, 2011, 11:17

    Take a deep breath, Rex. The union rebutted the Sac Bee editorial–they don’t get 8-weeks, right out of the gate:

    The Bee: “Because of new ‘days off’ provisions, starting employees would have eight weeks of paid time off each year (more for senior employees). Most would not be able to use it all, but the contract would allow them to cash it out at retirement. Gone is the vacation cap – allowing no more than 80 days each year to carry over. No ‘use it or lose it’ policy here.”

    Fact: Again the Bee’s editorial misses the mark. The new contract does not increase starting employees’ vacation accumulation at all. New employees get 12 days of vacation. ALL employees got two personal development days—the same as other state unions—in exchange for losing two holidays. This is detailed in Section 10.01 and 8.07 of the agreement. Unfortunately, as a byproduct of the furlough program, employees are accumulating vacation time that they can’t take—because they’re required to take furlough time first. This has meant larger payouts. The administration anticipates that as furloughs end, these numbers will come down. And, no state employee has a “use it or lose it” policy in their contracts.

    Reply this comment
  11. Centurion
    Centurion 23 April, 2011, 18:59

    “New employees get 12 days of vacation and all employees get two personal development days — the same as other state unions — in exchange for losing two holidays.”

    Oscar Hidalgo, assistant secretary, Communications, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation,

    Reply this comment
  12. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 23 April, 2011, 20:14

    Rex, All accumulated vacation and sick hours are redeemed at the rate in force at the time of such redemption. Its been that way as long as I can remember. My spouse had vacation accumulation on his last job as a supervisor in the construction industry, and it was redeemed at the amount he was earning at the time. So, what else is new, Rex. Something tells me you need a job–I hope you get one soon.

    Reply this comment
  13. David from Oceanside
    David from Oceanside 24 April, 2011, 07:14

    Sometimes a typo is just a typo. Other times they tell a better truth. Cut and paste from Centurion’s post above.

    “2) If you can’t take your vacation time off due to under stffing, why shouldn’t you be compensated for it?”

    Its probably true that the government rent seekers believe we taxpayers have been under stiffed.

    Reply this comment
  14. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 24 April, 2011, 20:26

    There are reasons, other than the contract of the prison guards, for the costs involved in the operation of our prison system: Three strikes, medical care, illegals, death penalty policy, et al. I do not think that we need to imprison people who do not pose a danger to others. There are methods, other than imprisonment, for enacting punishment of those who commit white-collar crimes.

    Reply this comment

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