Bill would hike public pay more

Steven Greenhut: To provide an idea of the utter cluelessness of California’s majority Democrats, one need only look at AB 455, which passed the Senate on a party line vote on Tuesday. As the bill analysis explains, the legislation “Requires, in public agencies that have established merit or personnel commissions, that the governing board of the public agency appoint one-half of the commission members, and appoint the other one-half as nominated by the recognized employee organization.” In other words, unions will now dominate local commissions that establish pay and benefit packages for public employees. The legislation is sponsored by AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) and authored by Assemblywoman Nora Campos.

“Many municipalities and public agencies appoint merit and personnel commissions, which promulgate and administer the rules and regulations relating to employee selection, recruitment, pay, retention, promotion, evaluation, and discipline,” Campos explained.  “[However], despite the importance of merit and personnel commissions to employment relations, the MMBA is silent as to how these commissions should be composed.  A requirement that personnel and merit commission appointments be shared by the employer and employee organization would ensure that the commissions will be more balanced and fair.”

The goal is to expand union power in cities that use these commissions to determine pay packages. In some cities, for instance, the commissions are appointed by elected officials and Campos wants to assure that the recipients of government pay get to determine their own packages. This is lunacy, especially at a time when government budgets are imploding and leading to cut backs in services. The League of California Cities opposes the bill for some sensible, cost-related and local-control issues:

“AB 455 unnecessarily intrudes into what is fundamentally a local municipal affair over the compensation method of appointment, qualifications, tenure of office, and removal of employees.  Additionally, agencies that no longer have authority to appoint the full board will likely forgo the civil/personnel commission and instead took to an outside hearing officer or binding arbitration.  Either of these options would be more costly to the agency and to employees.”

Of course, conservatives need not worry too much about such measures, which will only make the current union-dominated system collapse even more quickly. But this provides telling insight into the thinking of those who run Sacramento. In their bizarre world, government employees don’t have enough control over local budgets! I would guess that the governor would sign this, although his recent rejection of Darrell Steinberg’s totalitarian card check bill for the farm workers’ union gives me some hope that he might get out the veto pen if necessary.

JULY 6, 2011





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