Want the news summarized?
Subscribe to The Morning Report.

Labor Day is sometimes seen as a private party we all get to go to. This year, we are all in it together.

I have never been a member of a union. Came close once a long time ago. But, I ran out of time and did not qualify.

But I recall union membership was a big deal to those who held it. Not just for the rates, and the fraternity of it all. Also, because those folks were part of something they believed in. It was a pretty cool thing. They were they, you were not. You could be an OK person, but still not them. You had to want to become a “they.” And, it took time. And you had to get work. It took something to get into the club.

I’ve had a chance to work with unions in the past. Not always a day at the beach, but I could always get their point of view, whether I agreed with it or not.

San Diego has got some very fine unions. I say this because I worked with them as chairman of the Convention Center during our hundred million dollar construction expansion and when I was working on the cargo facility at Brown field.

We had some serious problems in finishing the Convention Center in the summer of 2001. We worked with some nine unions at the center and had to get some help to get some work done quickly to allow us to open on time to a large convention that would not have happened otherwise. It happened, and the work was done without delay or drama. Then came 9/11. A disaster for us all. But, it would have been more so particularly for the city’s Convention Center in the grips of the travel concerns of that period if we did not complete our project to keep us afloat thereafter. Two months later, the center hosted a meeting of over 28,000 visitors. A great success, under the circumstances. That event would have been cancelled had we not opened on time.

This would not have happened without some union help when we needed it. The local union folks got involved and helped solve problems. They did not like all the situation, but they understood that the problems had to be solved or everyone, especially including the unions, would loose.

On Brown Field, the SD and Imperial Co. Labor Council got us commitments to get the work done. Just about everything constructed on an airport is union labor, as are many of the operating jobs. That project obviously did not happen, for reasons not important to this blog. But, if it had, lots of great jobs would have come from it, most of them union jobs.

And, we all could have been glad of that.

The point here is, unions can be OK to work with when they and you see the real world as the real world is.

Until now I have discussing private sector unions. Those that have organized labor not in the government sector.

But we live in San Diego where the municipal unions have been the topic of late. I recently wrote a piece supporting the Po-Po here on Voice. [I like them for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that the Po-Po rep on the Pension thug board, Tom Rhodes, voted to not approve MPII in 2002. He lost his seat as the police rep as a result of that courageous stand, but the fact is he was a stud when those were badly needed and maybe it’s just the police system, not its management, that produces such people.]

Now, government sector unions are also OK in my book, if they deal with real world elements that effect us all.

That has not been the case of late. At least, not here.

And, while we are all big losers, certainly among the biggest are the members of all municipal unions.

Perhaps for a much longer time, but certainly since 2000, municipal union management have been co-sponsors with city officials in a looting of the assets of the city through the intentional backloading of massive retirement benefit obligation obligations to future generations of taxpayers. This is not just illegal and immoral conduct, it is positively stupid behavior.

Certainly it is stupid from the government officials’ standpoint because it requires that they cover up and misrepresent the city’s financial position in the capital markets, considered very bad luck by the SEC and others. But, it is also stupid from the union standpoint because it is premised on the thinking that the politicians that couldn’t pay into the retirement system what was legally required at the time, will be replaced later with some that will find the ability to do so. And, they will live up to those ‘obligations’ by sacrificing the legitimate interests of the people that elected them to office. And they will not be sympathetic to using their constituents’ tax funds to pay off massive past sneaky debts to unions.

How dumb is all this?

The result?

No raises for police since the Celtics won the NBA championship.

The Cedar Fire that would have burned through Rose Canyon and burned La Jolla and Pacific Beach to the ground (according to our last fire chief) because we had not equipment or personnel to handle the fire had the wind not stalled on the third day; sewage spills that pollute our beaches all the time, particularly ironic in the summer when so many folks come here for a “sewage” vacation; pot holes; closed library and pools; sales of public properties; the fire sale of tobacco revenues of over $12 Million to each council district gone, etc.. And, I haven’t even begun.

Here’s the kicker for our union friends that play along with this. The City will can between 500-1000 of you very soon, between 4 percent and 8 percent of the workforce. And, it will ‘outsource’ a bunch more of jobs. [And, since ‘safety’ is off the table, the percentages for non-police and fire probably double.]

You guys are going under the bus. And, it’s your fault.

I suspect that most of you that will lose your jobs had very little to do with the decision making on the massive “backloading” deals, and might not be in line for a “haunch” of retirement benefits in the next year or so. But, you will pay the price and you will be thrown under the bus. Because that’s where you’re at.

Your folks went along with the city’s fraud, and now the burden is coming at you.

It really stinks.

But, it gets worse.

The city’s financial condition is “systemically imbalanced”. This means, the city’s obligations under the pension deals, not to mention sewer, water , trash, etc, grow more negative each year. It doesn’t magically turn around.

I think this the most debilitating to the municipal unions.

For the next 50 years you will be facing a city on the brink of disaster. No money, because it is more in debt than it was the year before. So no raises, no better equipment no more of anything that makes working conditions better.

You see, the financial condition of the city needs to be re-set. If it were, you could start the following year dealing with the city as real employer, not one on “life support”.

You could get better wages. You could count on your jobs being there in the future. You could plan on retirement.

If you go down the fairy dust path, you will never know from one year to the next if yours is the next name of the folks going “under the bus’, because at least for that day, it’s going to be your fault.

Hey, I’m sorry to bring so much reality to a holiday. I do it because I respect you.

You might want to get off your badankadanks and decide what you are going to do to protect your interests in the future.

This whole scram started out as a way to illegally skin future taxpayers without them knowing it. It worked out horribly for everybody, especially for municipal labor.

You might want to ditch the thinking of the past. There are ways out, but not where you are going these days.

PAT SHEA

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.