Members of Local 39 call for action

“Chop at the top!”

That was the chant echoed by approximately 150 employees of the City of Sacramento, all members of Local 39, as they picketed outside City Hall Plaza.

“Our members are very, very upset,” said Joan Bryant, Director of Public Employees for Local 39. “This is the fifth round of layoffs we’ve had in our bargaining units. We had about 121 of our members who recently received layoff notices, and our members are upset about it."

“I’m here to show my support,” said David Worlds, an employee with the Department of Transportation, recently transferred from the Department of Parks and Recreation. “I think it’s important that we show up and if nothing else let people know that it is important to us.”

In terms of concessions, the City is proposing:

  • A three year contract covering June 19, 2010 to June 2013
  • A 4% reduction in salaries effective June 19, 2010
  • A 5% increase in salaries effective June 30, 2012
  • One furlough day per month for the term of the contract
  • Salary step increases suspended until June 29, 2013, upon which salary steps will be advanced to the step that they would have been had the salary step increases not been suspended.


A statement passed out by Local 39 at today’s event addressed the concessions saying the City of Sacramento is top heavy with management. According to the statement, there is one management position for every six workers who provide front line services to the public.

The statement also alleged the City Manager is proposing to lay off workers in special funded departments, such water treatment plant operators and sanitation works in the Department of Utilities, even though they have an approved balanced budget.

Local 39 also took concern with the percentage of general funds spent on public safety, saying the City of Sacramento has for the first time surpassed the 80% figure for public safety expenditures.

Bryant indicated talks have been moving along between the City and Local 39. “I kind of characterize it as the very early stages of bargaining,” said Bryant. “We’ve had nine sessions with our large bargaining unit, and we were at the table today with our plant operations, and tomorrow we will have another session.”

Yet not everyone feels Local 39’s Leadership has put their best foot forward regarding concessions.

“I haven’t heard anything from anybody,” said Worlds. “There’s more questions right now than answers, and I think that’s probably a big part of it.”

“I think if there was more communication, it would help.”

An online petition has been started urging Local 39 Leadership to agree to the City’s proposal.

“I know we have some members who believe we should just come and vote on whatever they want to vote on, and we have a process to follow,” said Bryant. “I know there are some disgruntled members because they thought last year they should have had a vote on something. Last year we met with the City hoping we could arrive at some kind of amicable solution to help with the budget deficit, but the City walked away from the $7 million dollars we offered in concessions.”

“I don’t think they (the members) understand the bargaining process that you should just come and vote. That is not the feeling of the majority of them”.

When asked what he would like to see as a result of the demonstration, Worlds hoped for one thing:

“An agreement”

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July 28, 2010 | 9:27 AM

In terms of concessions, the City is proposing guaranteed pay increases.
That is a sweet deal for the employees!
Most of us are just hoping to have a job in 2013!
A three year contract covering June 19, 2010 to June 2013
A 4% reduction in salaries effective June 19, 2010
A 5% increase in salaries effective June 30, 2012
One furlough day per month for the term of the contract
Salary step increases suspended until June 29, 2013, upon which salary steps will be advanced to the step that they would have been had the salary step increases not been suspended.

July 28, 2010 | 10:28 AM

This quote from Local 39 is interesting…

“This is the fifth round of layoffs we’ve had in our bargaining units. We had about 121 of our members who recently received layoff notices, and our members are upset about it.”

The union is trying to make it sound like they have suffered 5 layoffs already from the City of Sacramento… not true. The 121 layoffs are 13% of local 39 membership, about equal to local unemployment rates. And these have come from a variety of employers in the area.

It is not the role of the taxpayers of Sacramento to keep Local 39 members employed because their union has already suffered cuts from other employers.

July 30, 2010 | 5:42 AM

The community development department/building department has lost over 50% of its employees and mostly all from Local 39 which is around 138 out the door. Now I was told when I was at the CDD counter that management now stands at one per every employee. I would like to know where you get your information? a A crackerjack box! City authorities are unwilling to let any of the CDD management go for they may tell the press about the millions of dollars that where giving away to builders, developers and through shady deals. Got to keep the family secrets under the bedspread.

July 28, 2010 | 10:31 AM

Actually why is the city even negotiating with the union on concessions? In November Sacramento voters will surely approve a measure to rollback utility rate increases, and hold spending increases to inflation (or get voter approvals).

Local 39 members will need to be laid off to balance next years budget under this measure. Why delay the inevitable and work on concessions in such an unsettled situation?

July 28, 2010 | 1:06 PM

This story is really incomplete.. This rally was called by 39′s leaders for one reason: to try to distract attention from the 150 or so dissident members of 39 who are publicly calling upon their union to be reasonable at the bargaining table to save almost 100 city jobs and to keep city services from being cut even deeper.

Here are the facts the author of the story missed:

- Last year, Local 39 was the only city union that refused to accept very modest labor concessions, which led directly to the city firing 41% of all park workers and myriad other layoffs throughout city government.
- Local 39 threw its junior members under the bus last year and are doing it again this year, as less senior employess get fired first under the seniority rules in 39′s contract. Workers with young families and who are just starting out in life are getting systematically screwed.
- Local 39 failed to act in solidarity with other city unions last year, leaving it to the other unions to shoulder the burden of the city budget deficit (39 is the city’s largest union).
- Local 39 greedily pocketed step and COLA raises and a 10% benefit hike last year while city government was in meltdown and state workers took 15% pay cuts.
- Dissident 39 members are so sick and fed up with 39′s out-of-town leadership that they are circulating a union decertification petition to kick out 39 and connect up with another union or form one of their own.
- 39′s leadership adamantly refuses to put its bargaining position up to a democratic vote of its members, knowing that its members would stop its insane union militancy which is costing its members jobs, decimating city services and increasing the liklihood of future layoss via outsourcing.
- City layoffs caused by 39′s intransigence are destroying city services in department after department. Check out our local parks, where 65% of all park workers (virtually all whom are 39 members) have been fired in the past 24 months.
- All layoffs of 39 workers over the past two years could have been avoided if 39 had simply accepted the same concessions that all other city unions have been accepting.
- The taxpayer gets screwed with every layoff, because the ones who are getting fired are the most cost-effective city workers of all – low wage, productive younger workers – while older, more costly, less efficient 39 members have been steadily collecting pay raises and getting benefit hikes.
- Smart members of 39 knows where this will all lead: overpriced 39 labor will almost certainly end up being terminated as the city turns to outsourcing to deliver desperately needed public services at an affordable cost, as the city’s consultant has been urging it to do.
-The public will start demanding outsourcing as the only way for the city to preserve public services in the face of 39′s irresponsible instrasigence.

August 1, 2010 | 8:32 PM

Does “the public” know that years of experience has shown that when any level of government starts out sourcing, it ALWAYS costs the taxpayers more in the long run? Sweetheart deals are made, employees are paid peanuts, services decline and company execs line their pockets at taxpayer expense.

July 28, 2010 | 5:33 PM

YOLO COUNTY IS IN THE PROCESS OF DECERTING LOCAL 39 AS WE SPEAK. Yolo County has collected enough signatures to continue the Decert process and plan on doing so! It appears that Yolo County and Local 39 have a cozy relationship and like it that way despite the members disapproval and many of the same concessions your City has given up. We have had enough and are forming a members association with the help of consultants. Now, all of a sudden they want to have meetings with us and tell us what they can do for us. Bottom line…they don’t want to lose our union dues to the tune of $300,000+. The amt. was much higher before we had lay-offs that Local 39 they didn’t help us with either. It’s not about the members any more, it’s about Local 39 and Yolo County and how much money they can put in their pocket books.

July 28, 2010 | 5:43 PM

LandParker, thanks for pointing out the ugly truth about Local 39. The public needs to know what’s really going on and how our local governments are doing business. It’s time our officials and the unions need to be held accountable.

July 29, 2010 | 11:06 PM

Dang. LandParker’s comments are very revealing, and union politics are often ridiculous. But we may be missing a larger point. Cogmeyer points out that there will be a ballot measure in November to further reduce city revenues. All those folks out there wishing to starve government to the point it can be drowned in a bathtub better be careful what they wish for. Sacramento is nice place to live in part because of the services we receive, including parks, code enforcement, fire, police. Is our goal to be more like third-world cities that don’t provide a similar level of service??? Maybe I should reconsider that remodeling project….

August 1, 2010 | 10:45 PM

Wanting efficient and responsive government actually has a lot more in common with Scandanavian countries rather than Thirld World ones.

To be clear, the November Utility Rollback measure does not “reduce city revenues” at all, it just limits the increases to inflation without voter approval. I suppose the city and Local 39 can call this a “reduction” if they were counting on sticking taxpayers with 9.2% utility increases year after year, but that is kind of twisted thinking.

I will never argue for police cutbacks, but everything else that the city spends money has to be on the table. And when Union 39 is getting raises in the middle of this economic crisis while blowing through political money obviously makes them a target.

Most smart union leaders know that they don’t get a lot of voter sympathy when unemployment is high and budgets are tight… seems like Local 39 never got that memo.

Avatar of swr
August 4, 2010 | 10:55 AM

Where the blazes were the State Stationary Engineers? They should have been out there supporting the union!

August 4, 2010 | 2:57 PM

rates are set by council, you city is ran by elected officals. if you do not like how the city is ran then vote out the leadership. the city could lay everyone one off and still be short money. as with most goverment itsd not a revenue problem, its a spending problem. dont forget the grandjury inditement of the 21 million the city took from utilitie dollars and spent throught the general fund. sorry but your council is currupt. the council is like the city of bell. cutting front line services to pay people(more management) to sit on offices and provide no service

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