Nora Campos has authored a bill that would give unions far more power in their dealings with top city and county officials.
The former San Jose city councilmember who is now in her first term in the State Assembly, put forward AB 455, which is awaiting a vote in the Senate and was sponsored by AFSCME—San Jose’s largest union for public employees.
Depending on the authority a city or county grants its civil service commission, AB 455 would allow “unions to directly nominate half the members of the bodies that establish wages, work rules, and benefits; adjudicate workplace disputes; and set minimum qualifications and standards for job examinations,” according to SF Weekly.
San Jose Councilmember Pierluigi Oliverio said the city wouldn’t grant unions quite so much power, but he’s still “not a fan of it.” The civil service commission in San Jose consists of five members who serve four-year terms.
According to the San Jose’s city website, the civil service commission “is advisory to the City Council regarding Civil Service rules, as well as to the City Manager and any other appointive power regarding personnel administrative matters. Appeals to decisions made by the Commission concerning employee discipline and dismissal must be made through the court system.”
A separate commission in San Jose determines salaries for the city council, city manager and mayor. A spokesman for the mayor’s office, said it is unclear if state law would supersede the language in the San Jose’s charter regarding civil service commissions.
Councilmember Oliverio said he thinks any change to the current system in place is unnecessary.
“The way it’s done now, the whole council selects members from San Jose to the civil service commission, which is better than the unions appointing only people they like,” he said. “I can see nothing but skewed outcomes.”
Bill Brill is the current CSC chair. He serves with Jon Fitch, Margaret Akdeniz, Peter Soule and Issac Vaughn.
Oliverio noted Campos’ authorship of the bill coincides with her support of AB 438, which would require voter approval for county libraries to be outsourced to save money. Like Campos’ bill, AB 438 passed in the assembly and is up for a vote in the senate.
“Its pretty clear that certain assembly members are aligned with certain groups,” Oliverio said. “And it’s no surprise Assembly Member Campos is a big supporter of and supported by unionized groups.
“It’s a business model, because if the work is not done by union workers, there’s no dues. When we outsourced the graffiti program, they lost those union dues.”
Oliverio added that the city saved $631,000 by outsourcing graffiti cleanup as well as an additional $2.8 million for getting a private contractor to take care of the city’s smaller parks.