In the Union’s Dog House

The silhouette of San Leandro School Board President Morgan Mack-Rose. Her comments Dec. 21 critical of the city employee contracts raised the eyebrows of some union members.

By Steven Tavares

Members of the San Leandro School Board like to preface their comments to other government body’s by acknowledging their forthcoming words are theirs and not those of the same person, otherwise known as the school board trustee. Trustee Mike Katz uses this linguistic hula hop as does Board President Morgan Mack-Rose. Mayor-elect Stephen Cassidy also used it last week when he urged the city council to hold off voting on two city employee contracts. As if speaking as a private citizen is any different than the same person giving their opinion on the chamber dais.

Of course, doing so, gives each some wiggle room, if needed, in the future. The beginning of the Cassidy era in San Leandro was auspicious in many ways. An outsider in the mayor’s office and the skirmishes likely to follow with the city’s status quo, but it also provided a rare and visible pivot point in the where many local pols stand on one issue: unions.

For the city’s employee unions, last week’s vote on their new two-year contracts, asked “are you for us or against us?”

The San Leandro Police Officers Association already pegged Cassidy as public enemy #1 last October, but others have emerged from their recent comments. Mack-Rose not only employed the dual-personality preface, but also told the council she may not understand the contracts, but nevertheless, found problems with them, specifically the drop in furlough days from 12 to 6. The act was similar to an old Saturday Night Live skit featuring Phil Hartman as the thawed-out caveman who becomes a lawyer. “I’m just a caveman,” the lawyer used to punctuate his argument to the everyman jury. One union rep smiled knowingly after her comments. The large of group of union members at the council chambers guffawed when one opponent portrayed them as high-priced government workers.

Others were justifiably quiet over the contracts, but their inaction spoke volumes. Councilmember-elect Pauline Cutter strode a fine line between alienating her union support during the campaign, but she popped her head on the pro-pension reform side too often. Her call, along with Cassidy, to hold off on the contracts raised eye-brows along with Councilwoman Ursula Reed, who abstained on the basis of showing the two in-coming members the confidential labor negotiations. Reed said she fears no retribution from unions in the future and said she supports the new labor contracts. Councilmembers Jim Prola, Joyce Starosciak, Michael Gregory and even outgoing Mayor Tony Santos, conversely, all said the right things to union brass.

While the political scene may have been jumbled recently with the election of Cassidy, one bromide continues to exist: you can’t expect much of a political future in this city without sustained union support. It’s the reason Katz did not dare voice an opinion on the union contracts, even at the urging of his wife.

Dominic Dutra
FREMONT’S HIRED GUN? Stephen Cassidy is not the only white knight hoping to save city finances by forcing the unions to pay. Fremont’s newest city councilmember is hoping to achieve the same trick.

When Fremont City Council approved former member Dominic Dutra to replace Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski earlier this month, the appointment likely sends a message to the city employee unions who are due to negotiate contracts in 2011. Fremont, like almost every Bay Area city is struggling with budget shortfalls.

Fremont Mayor Bob Wasserman told the Oakland Tribune, “When we have to tackle very tough budget problems, he won’t shy away,” Every member except Councilman Bill Harrison named Dutra as their first choice. Dutra says he will not seek re-election in 2012, but power has a way of changing minds.

Categories: Bob Wasserman, Fremont, Mike Katz, Morgan Mack-Rose, police union, school board, Stephen Cassidy, unions

59 replies

  1. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are just like unionized government workers; neither have any respect for the taxpayer and both believe that the money is theirs in the first place.


  2. They drive by your house every day and laugh at you.

    The appeal of Single Payer and other systems is that they are a lot cheaper and provide universal coverage.Instead of wasting money on marketing. Health care is a unique industry. With most products you choose to buy it or not . You don't choose to be sick or not.


  3. Single Payer is “cheaper” because it is inferior. Plain and simple. For those who on't want to take any responsibility for themselves then of course free healthcare is appealing. Leeches suck blood and life off of others. There is nothing wrong with “profits”. Sorry


  4. Too much profit or profit driven health care not that successful. Reagan economics also proven worthless.
    Morgan Mac Rose is rumored to be running for Assembly with Tavares as her press sec.


  5. I work for $30,000-a-year or $25-a-word, whichever is higher.

    Good conversation above, but what's the alternative? Republicans are planning to quickly push through a repeal of health care reform. How are we going to fix the problem if we go back to the old way of funding health care?


  6. Profit driven anything ALWAYS brings about the best results. Plain and simple. Introduce competition and a better product will result.


  7. That's why we had the financial meltdown


  8. Again you idiot, you have no idea about the financial meltdown, so shut your piehole and go watch repeats of Jerry Brown's inaugaration.


  9. As I said before Steven, what the Republicans want to do is to remove the cancer that is Obamacare and replace it with reforms that actually target what is wrong with the system without completely gutting the largely good that we have now. Likely they will just vote to repeal it as there really aren't enough votes in the Senate and even if there were there is still the Obama gatekeeper.
    What will really happen is that it will just be defunded and overturned by the courts. Any scheme that requires people to engage in commerce against their will and fines and/or taxes them for not doing so is against the law. Since this ill written and conceived law is not separable the whole thing will be thrown out when it actually works its way through the courts.
    Let's face it, because of the above facts ($6,600 per person per year (because of the nature of Medicare’s beneficiary pool of older and disabled people), while the average medical cost for private health insurance was $2,700 per person per year.) we can be assured that the federal government plan will cost three times that of any private plan out there.
    In closing, let me share a few poignant quotes from Nobel economist Milton Freidman in reference to government control of industry:

    If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there'd be a shortage of sand.

    Concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it.

    Most economic fallacies derive from the tendency to assume that there is a fixed pie, that one party can gain only at the expense of another.

    and lastly:
    Most of the energy of political work is devoted to correcting the effects of mismanagement of government.

    Regards to all,



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