Labor Day Guest Editorial by union official

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Editorial
By Roger Brooks
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Oxnard Mayor, Mayor Pro Tem, and Councilmembers,
 
Today is Labor Day, a day we recognize and honor labor, and those before us who fought to bring about worker rights, rights that we enjoy today. One of those rights is collective IUOE501bargaining, where workers negotiate for fair and equal pay and working conditions. Sadly, fair and equal does not appear to apply to employees in Oxnard. Instead, the trend seems to be a 3 class system of employees. Those in the top class, top management and unrepresented employees, enjoy being offered very generous wagesB, merit increases, secret reclassifications with significant raises, and except for a few, no move towards paying their part of PERS. The next class would be public safety, proven by a wage offer very much different and more generous from what was offered to the working class. That leaves us with the remaining class, the working class, who may I also remind you are the lowest paid employees in the city, some merely earning minimum wage. Employees that are low to moderately low income trying to survive with the local cost of living. Excluding public safety, these are the people that get the job done by maintaining infrastructure, processing payments and contracts, keeping the work flowing so all the city systems keep functioning. Without them, the city would fall apart. We are all city employees, we all should be treated fairly and equally.
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IUOE Local 501 employees are the ones you see out on the streets, picking up, cleaning up, fixing, repairing, maintaining, keeping the city running. Yet the wage package you offered was a disappointing acknowledgement  for the hard and significant work they do. The City Manager has stated there is a 15% vacancy rate in the city. For IUOE it is a 25% vacancy rate. The remaining workers are doing more work and being offered less pay, and all of the city leaders still call and demand services be provided. That cannot continue to happen and is not possible if you don’t have the staff to provide those services.
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Sadly and very disappointing, IUOE Local 501 is still trying to negotiate a contract. The employees want a decent offer, they want to be treated equally, and they want what is fair. This was very evident in the failed ratification vote which had the highest turnout I have ever seen in my 16 years as a member of this bargaining group. In addition, the rejection was almost unanimous. The message is very clear, IUOE employees want to be treated equal and not less than other employees. There were several reasons this happened. One is we cannot get a straight answer on the financial situation of the city. During budget approval at city council, Councilman Perello directly asked the City Manager what happened to the shortfall and need for employee concessions. The City Manager replied that has been resolved, the budget is balanced and there is no longer a need for concessions. Yet when we met with the consultant several days later, she stated there was a $600,000 shortfall that labor needed to cover. It is hard to trust when someone is not telling the truth.
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Another significant reason that hits the paycheck is healthcare rates will be increasing 10-20% this year. Additionally, after we are told this is all the city can afford, it offers a significantly better wage package to police and fire. Public Safety already receives increased benefits for the jobs they do. Your offers to the employees should be the same across the board. Due to different pay rates, offering the same percentage will still result in the higher paid employees being compensated better anyway. Employee moral is the worst it has been in years. Mayor Pro Tem stated when discussing the CFO wages that we need to pay higher and competitive wages to obtain and keep the people we need. I think all of you should stand by her statement and treat the employees of IOUE who have remained loyal to the city equally and fairly. Provide us the wage package offer you offered public safety. IUOE employees deserve that.
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On this Labor Day, be thankful for all the city employees, and especially the IUOE employees that keep your city functioning every day despite a 25% vacancy rate and increased workloads. The city needs to recognize the labor force and the job they do, and adequately compensate them for it. Just like a living body, you must keep all parts healthy and functioning. You cannot neglect one organ or it will cause the entire body to fail. It also is completely wrong to allow some employees to eat steak while forcing others to only eat hot dogs. 
 
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Sincerely,
Roger Brooks
Chief Steward,
IUOE Local 501
 

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Tom
Tom
4 years ago

According to Transparent California Roger W Brooks, a SR Code Compliance Inspector for Oxnard, earned a regular pay in 2013 of $64,581; in 2014 $70,301, in 2015 $73,049, an average increase of 6.4% per year. Total pay and benefits increased an average of 6.0% per year.

William "Bill" Hicks
William "Bill" Hicks
4 years ago

That’s why everyone runs to public sector jobs because they can hold tax payers ransom for benefits that are unsustainable to the point where it will eventually collapse due to union demands.