Campos Pushes for Greater Union Power

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.

Josh Koehn is a former managing editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley.


  1. What unions can not win at polls in San Jose they are trying to win in Union controlled Democratic Legislature

    Throw the bums out, recall Campos

    Union controlled Democratic Legislature is main cause of California’s high unemployment, highest taxes, poor bond rating, budget crisis, unsustainable government employee pensions and thousands companies and millions + jobs leaving California to other states

  2. Why not just put the unions in charge?  But wait, then they would become management which the unions and their puppets seem to want to divest of all power.  Seems like a logical dilemma here.

  3. Nora Campos’s position on unions appears passionate but more genuinely, it is a position which is an extremely self-serving and profitable one. With reference to her husband’s position within the union heiarchy and all the “soft political assistance” garnered over her political career, the bread is well buttered here, but so is consistency and loyalty to the folk piety.

    Personally, I believe in and support the concept of unions. There are great historical benefits that have in the past and still today confer a mulitude of benefits to wit I enjoy to this very day.

    A big however, unions, as I have experienced them with the City of San Jose; are inept, rife with coruption,do not serve their members very-well-if-at all, are disjoint and devoid of coherant leadership.

    The Unions are utterly shameless. For example, Unions have not reduced their “dues” as city employees are being systematically sold into slavery.

    As to the Civil Service Commission. This robust cadre is orders of magnitude worse. The Civil Service System has been corrupted over decades and the Unions, City Management and Councils orchestrated the continued downfall.

    The Civil Service Commission is known as “the rubber stamp commission”. They are Council appointees. The Civil Service Commission is not to be trusted at any time and for any reason.

    On paper, with reference to the San Jose City Charter, the Civil Service Commission has a “watch dog” capacity over the appointing authority (i.e. the City Manager). But…that is where it stops. A rotting corpse provides greater oversight than the Civil Service Commission.

    Any city employee worth his or her salt would be extremely prudent if; the appointing authority and or agents and or principals thereof, were to raise their their hands against them in a workplace issue, to immediately hire a competent Attorney. Only an abject fool would place their trust in either the unions or the accursed Civil Service Commisssion.

    One big issue here is “administrative remedy v. Res judicata and collateral estopel”. Hire a competent attorney to expalin these dynamics when your rear end is on the line.

    For those who do not have a working knowledge of; the Office of the City Manager, the Office of Employee Relations, Union Heirchy systems,the Civil Service System AND their integration to maintain the impetus of the staus quo, you will not appreciate what I am telling you. And that is, unfortunately, the vast majority of taxpayers who are being misled and wrongly served to their detriment.

    When San Jose City Councilmembers make coments about the Civil Service Commission it is usally just their opinion. Very, very rarely do they actually know what they are talking about.

    Councilmembers get their “rear ends kissed” to such a degree they rarely see the truth in any Civil Service issue. These same Councilmembers are genuinely “hoodwinked” on a routine basis by a savy City Manager whose organizational empire is more powerful than some foreign governments and is protected by the City Charter. This must change.

    The Civil Service System was designed to combat corruption in government. It is now the poster child of corruption.

    Beware of politicians that take pride in “contracting out government services”. Very soon, the City of San Jose will be run by “contract managers”. Some say that’s a good idea. They are wrong.

    Solutions to the issues I have raised with municpal government will require the voters; to become more participatory by attending Council Comittee meetings, Council meetings, talking to City employees, studying the City Charter and learning how the Civil Service Commission is supposed to work.

    The Civil Service Commission relies on staff provided by the administration. They “rely” on on information produced by the same. Should membership be in the hands of the voters? It’s better than letting Councilmembers pick them.

    Mayor Reed of late has championed “ballot language” to “let the voters decide” with reference to employee matters involving a change to the City Charter.

    I say we need to put the elimination or the diminuition of the Office of the City Manager and requisite changes to protect the Civil Service System; to protect equal opportunity and to protect and punish corrupt administrative acts (i.e. hiring of friends)on the same ballot. (Hopefully with your input as well.)

    Solutions to improve the unions will require a “hybrid or super union formation” (decertifying some unions and combining others), more focused and directed participation of the membership and the hiring of competent Attorneys while shedding the “corrupt business agent” model and practice.

    I wish I never read this article.

    How do you think Nora’s brother got elected to replace her in District 5? His brother in law’s political / union machinery? The Registar of Voters said he got more votes than the other candidates.

    David S. Wall

  4. Saturday once again shows the escalating violence.  With the lack of officers public safety seems to get more and more at risk.  Officers and Citizens.
        Officers involved in a downtown altercation with an extreme level of violence called for emergency back up.  Nearest units available responded from Stevenscreek and Saratoga. 
        Officers were tied up in numerous calls including a shooting.  Might also be noted a lone female intoxicated was being raped during all these events.  Is it the power of the Unions (Public Safety has none) or reality?  Jimmie will be reporting weekly as information comes in. Jimmie has other stories to report but is in the verification process.  The last two weekends reports numerous shootings and stabbings.

  5. I thought the entire graffiti program consisted of a whole 3 employees. There is simply too much hyperbole being thrown around by the city’s leaders these days. The only real change is the loss in faith we tax paying citizens are feeling towards the council, mayor and city manager.
    By the way, my understanding is that the city manager serves at the pleasure of the council. What I cannot fathom is how in these tough times she is allowed to make unilateral decisions on multimillion dollar decisions that will have long term negative ramification on the health and welfare of the city without council approval. Sounds to me like the council has no real authority. Have they become mere puppets for this bully of a mayor? I’m quite certain strong leaders not weak followers will prevail in next years elections. Just a thought.

  6. There seems to be a lot of anti-Union here but let me tell you, if you stop Unions, you eliminate the middle class, say what you want but its true. Then there will only be rich and poor and guess where you’ll be???

    • > . . . . if you stop Unions, you eliminate the middle class, say what you want but its true. Then there will only be rich and poor and guess where you’ll be???

      Wait.  Don’t we have unions now?

      Don’t we have millionaires and billionires riding around in corporate jets?

      Don’t we have 400,000 people per month filing for unemployment?

      Don’t we have the lowest labor force participation rate since the depression?

      Don’t we have record home foreclosures?

      Don’t we have entire industries moving to China and the third world?

      Don’t we have Obamba as our President?

      What difference have unions made, anyway?

  7. Just what we don’t need—more union power.

    Union “workers” have been re-doing the SF Bay Bridge since Loma Prieta in 1989.

    China just opened Jiaozhou Bay Bridge

    The Jiaozhou Bay Bridge is 42.5 kilometres (26.4 mi) long and cuts the distance between Qingdao and Huangdao by 31 kilometres Opened on 30 June 2011, the structure is the world’s longest bridge over water (there are longer bridges over land).
    The bridge took FOUR YEARS to build, 450,000 tons of steel and 2.3 million cubic meters of concrete were used in the construction of the bridge, which was designed by the Shandong Gausu GroupThe bridge makes the route between central Qingdao and Huangdao District shorter by 30 km, cutting the travel time in half (from over 40 minutes to about 20 minutes).

    They built a 26+ mile bridge in four years to cut 20 minutes off a 40 minute drive.

    Our union guys are still dicking around after 21 years with a much shorter bridge that will save zero drive time.

    • I am sure you will find the civil rights situation to be far different from here.  There have been many great monuments to mankind’s ability to build impressive structures accomplished through the use of slave labor.  I guess you are just assuming that you will be one of those with a clipboard instead of the recipient of the lash.

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