HAYWARD | MAYOR | As more local political groups continue to shun Hayward mayoral candidates seeking their endorsement, it’s becoming clear the trio who voted to impose a five percent wage cut of city workers carry a torturous Scarlet Letter around town.

You can pick whichever letter signifies Councilmembers Barbara Halliday, Francisco Zermeno and Mark Salinas’ transgression against city workers after yet another group last Saturday declined to endorse any of the three mayoral candidates. This time it was the Asian Pacific American Democratic Caucus of Alameda County giving the big no thanks.

According to the campaign Web sites of each candidate, only Halliday possess any support from a local endorsing body. Her site lists the Hayward Mobilehome Owners Association as an endorser, along with Gays & Lesbians Organized for Betterment and Equality (GLOBE). The latter likely from a connection between the group and former Hayward Councilmember Kevin Dowling, who is involved in Halliday’s campaign.

Barbara Halliday, Mark Salinas, 
Francisco Zermeno

In fact, nearly every endorsing group has grilled the three over their vote last February harshly opposed by members of Service Employee Union International Local 1021. Saturday afternoon’s endorsement meeting in Alameda was no different with all three having their vote questioned. While Halliday and Salinas held firm to previous statements, Zermeno continued a softening of his stance against workers. Zermeno, on two occasions, described himself a loyal Democrat. One time, offering the group, “If you want a good Democrat, I am yours.”

Later, Zermeno told the caucus he has personally apologized for his vote to various union members and offered to speak to every member of the nearly 300 SEIU Local 1021 workers in Hayward, if needed. However, he maintains his vote was made to protect the city’s promises of retirement and health benefits to workers in the future. “Down the line we see trouble ahead,” said Zermeno. “I needed to make sure that we want to be able to keep our promise.”

Halliday again struck a similar chord. “We want to protect the benefits these workers have,” said Halliday. “We want to protect good jobs with good benefits and if we continue down the path we were we would be risking going bankrupt.” She added, “The union would not agree to anything short of raises this year and no contributions, so impasse was declared.” Labor negotiators have refuted the characterization they were uncooperative, saying city management failed to engage the union at the bargaining table since last April.

Salinas told the group every labor group in Hayward since he was elected to the City Council in 2010 agreed to concessions, notably paying up to 17 percent towards the cost of their benefits. “Every labor group stepped up and hit that target,” Salinas told the group, except for SEIU Local 1021. He later charged the union with waiting for the last minute to negotiate. “There was no negotiation, no proposal and we made proposals that had minimum impact to paychecks.” But, the union didn’t want to do it, he said. And later when it came to backing one or more of the trio, the Asian Pacific American Caucus, like other political groups in the area, said neither did they and offered no endorsement.