By way of a 4-1 vote Tuesday, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors voted to increase their salaries by $32,000 even after unions protested against the decision.
Under the ordinance, each supervisor’s salary will equate to 70 percent of a Contra Costa County Superior Court judge’s pay which is set by the State Legislator. They used a salary study to include: The counties of Alameda, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma.
The Supervisors salary now jumps from $97,483 ($8,123.28 per/mo) to $129,216 ($10,768.92 per/mo) annually—a monthly increase is $2,662.72
Over an 8-year period, the Contra Costa County Supervisors have increased their salaries from $58,200 (2006) to $129,216 (2014).
Here is a transcript of what transpired:
Susan Davis-Lucy, represent Local 1 Board Representative,
Highlighted how Local 1 has supported the Board of Supervisors and have walked for them in the past.
“In 2006, you gave yourself a 60% raise with rational that you are underpaid, in 2007 you received a 2% COLA, now in 2014 you are giving yourself a 33% raise. Shame on you!” said Davis-Lucy. “We want leaders who will you lead and we hope you will reconsider a reasonable pay raise that is in alignment with what you have given to labor.”
David Partida, Local 1
“My message is about doing the right thing and doing what is fair to the public and to the country residents that we represent. I think you realize something today that county employees are not afraid anymore. County employees are not going to take it anymore and willing to take it to the next step,” said Partida. “Your action caused a reaction more powerful from county employees.”
Partida explained how a county employee cannot fix his car on his salary. He explained how a worker in the County Assessor’s office has to work 2 ½ jobs just to make it.
“It doesn’t feel right to get a $32,000 raise when so many people are just struggling. It should be more aligned with what so many other county employees are receiving. Do the right thing, if it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. All eyes are watching you,” said Partida.
Mike Davis, work for Local 1,
Shared that prior to working with Local 1, he was an assistant District Attorney and said he prosecuted everyone from trespassers to violent felons and been able to sit down to someone who has committed heinous acts in their lives and they have shown more accountability than the Board of Supervisors.
“I encourage you to watch the video of last week so you can actually hear the words that came out of your mouth. I think you would be as embarrassed of yourselves as the county is embarrassed of you,” said Davis. “Ms. Piepho, you pointed to the department head salaries and somehow used that as a justification for what your salary was going to be. Do you think we forgot that you just gave the department head pay raises using the same Counties you told labor we could not use. Mr. Glover and Mr. Gioia, you claim to show leadership, you show leadership by putting yourselves before all of the people who go out and do the work that you direct them to do. All of your gains, everything you can tout as something that you can be proud of is done on the backs of these guys. You demanded respect when people were not happy; you lost a chance at that respect when you four gave a collective middle finger to all your employees and all the residents of this county. Ms. Mitchoff, you came into our Board Meeting three months ago… with a smile you told us no one is getting any raises in Contra Costa, you told us as much. You said don’t even bother coming here asking us for a raise because you are not going to get it.”
He thanked Candace Andersen for everything she has done in showing leadership while telling the Board they should all be embarrassed.
Philip Hu, Local 1
“I can’t express how dismayed I am after listening to you guys last week attempt to hyper-rationalize your decision to enrich yourselves first after pleading poverty and asking your county employees to make sacrifices for the greater good. You lamented about this being a tough decision, no, it’s not a tough decision at all, just say no, say no to the raise like Supervisor Andersen” said Hu. “You dare call this leadership in what world is cutting to the front of the line with your hand out leadership? While you paint yourselves as leaders, you simultaneously bemoan how previous boards have kicked this can down the road. A couple of you have been on this board of quite some time. How do you logically claim both positions. I am sorry, but you can’t put one foot in the leadership boat and use the other foot to keep kicking the can down the road. You want to make it known to the media that employees got 4% and $750 payout that you didn’t get. Really? Seriously, what part of 33% versus 4% and $750 versus $32000 does not compute in your head? Here is how we figure out if this is leadership or self-enrichment, you talk about being committed to your employees and making them whole, you gave yourselves a massive 33% raise in one fell swoop, let’s see if you give them 16% or 38% in one fell swoop. My guess is you won’t so this is self-enrichment. Worse yet, this is wage theft because once you take your pot, there is not much left for them.
Peter Nguyen: Local 1
I hope you can appreciate the public outcry and the feelings of betrayal that your shameful act has engendered among the hard working employees who serve this county. On the one hand you have consistently plead poverty when it comes to cost of living and healthcare when it comes to cost of your workers, but you can somehow see your way to a 33% increase for yourselves. When we asked to use other Bay Area Counties for salary comparisons, you claim that our tax base in Contra Costa County is not the same as theirs, but when it came time for your own enrichment, not only did you sight other Bay Area salaries, but you wanted to tie your salary to 70% of that of a Superior Court Judge. I have news for you; having worked for a judge for myself, there is no way that your work is consistently as complex or your workload as consistently as even 40% of a Superior Court Judge. More insidious is the fact that by pegging your salary this way, you are ensuring that all of your future increases will occur automatically without public scrutiny. This is purely undemocratic. Now, when we aggregate the 60% salary increase you awarded yourself in 2006-2007 to this 33% proposal, it compounds to about a 100% increase over 7-years. How many of your constituents or employees have had that type of increase over the last 7-years. This is not any 7-years, this is the worst 7-years economically since the Great Depression, yet here we are talking about 100% for the members of this board. On a final vote, it was a failure of democracy that two members of this board did not have to face the voters this year; however, we are now paying close attention to your activities and will make sure that you will be held accountable for your actions. If you take this action today, make no mistake, the voters will remember.
Cheryll Grover, VP of Local 2700
Thanked Supervisor Andersen for her thoughtful response to this issue but wanted to note that when the Supervisors saw 1-employee, it’s really 100 because the others who could not be there are working.
Grover said, the Local 2700 would like you to know we are contesting the methodology that utilizes counties that are not used to set any other wages of Contra Costa County other than the board so they cannot be used to correlate these selected positions. Two, counties who do not have similar budgets. Three, Counties who do not have similar populations. Four, seeks to correlation positions, in this case, judges whos jobs require 7-years or more of college education while the Board seats have no educational requirement. Five, seeks to compare to judges whos duties and responsibilities have nothing in common with Boards seats while drawing a correlation to employees cuts over the past 7-years while administering that almost 3% cuts to themselves the same period of time failed in the continuity of correlating wages by the 60% raise and the 33% raise after cuts without similarity providing for their own employees even at the critical level of delivery of services. Seven, has information in your possession regarding other positions more appropriate for job study purposes but is ignoring that information. Eight, ignores the current Constitutional Amendment, Proposition 12, which requires referendum and 100% of the speakers at the last meeting voted no on this proposal and ordinance that is currently proposed.
Grover then highlighted an Orange County Grand Jury found that the system in its current use doesn’t give taxpayers a chance to voice their opinions on salary policy as is required in Prop 12—voters should have an opportunity to veto raises.
Ken Westermann, President of the Contra Costa Deputy Sheriff’s
While in the Marine Corp, I learned a few things about leadership and I would like to share that with you today. First, know your Marines and look out for their welfare. Well I know my Marines, they are the Deputy Sheriffs and Dispatchers in Contra Costa County and I am looking out for their welfare because historically they have taken virtually no pay raises and they are the lowest paid sheriff’s office in the Bay Area. To date, since January, we have lost 40 of them to competing agencies, it’s a lot of money wasted. So I am here to voice their opinion for them. Number two, set the example. I do not see any example set other here other than from Supervisor Andersen. I would ask you set the right example and rescind the 33% pay raise you are about to give yourself. Lastly, make sound and timely decisions. This is not a sound decision and certainly not timely coming off the worst economic downturn this country has seen in about a decade, you want to give 33% while the rest of us get 3% or 4%, is simply not right and not fair. As I stated before, nobody begrudges you for getting a pay raise, but we would ask you use the same methodology with all employees that you pegged them to the Bay Area counties which you historically told us no to so I ask in the future when we go through the collective bargaining process, that you show us some leadership and show some integrity and you allow use to use the same comparable jurisdictions and allow us to use same methodology to arrive at our own pay raises.
Board of Supervisor Discussion
Supervisor Candace Andersen:
This has been an interesting week where I have had tremendous feedback from many people and as the last speaker said I have not had anyone say this was a good idea all of them have said sure you deserve a raise, but not one of this magnitude. In particular, as we see today, it is affecting our county employees from everyone that I’ve heard they see this as a slap in the face.
As many of you, I am just getting it out there, that I am not going to be accepting this raise even though legally I will be entitled to it even though legally I am entitled to it as part of this Board of Supervisors. Several months ago when I knew about this raise was potentially coming forward, I did approach through David Twa, county council, who did find it was fine for me to wave a portion of the raise. So I will be only accepting the 4% we are giving our county employees and I have already had Bob Campbell draw up the paperwork so when the 60-days this ordinance goes into law assuming you support it that will be the case.
I honestly wondered if it would bother me sitting up here having all of you make significantly more than I do, but it really doesn’t because it’s not my money in the first place. We have had a lot of discussion today about leadership and I thought a lot about leadership this week and was speaking to some marine veterans on Sunday and leadership is really service and sacrifice and part of being a leader is sometimes looking at our decisions and looking back and saying maybe I need to go in a different direction. So even as you go ahead and pass this measure today I would certainly invite each one of you to voluntarily join me in waiving the 33% that you may legally be entitled to but instead take a smaller portion and bring in your raise to someday you will get up to the bench mark that you hope to, but let’s do it in a way that is fair and equitable to our public employees and it’s something that I think the public would hope we would do.
I want to make it very clear I am not doing this because it’s not the politically expedite thing to do but because I believe it’s the right thing.
Supervisor John Giola:
I think what is good about this opportunity is it allows us to be transparent about the whole issue of our salaries and employee salaries as well as leadership and I appreciate everyone has a different perspective on this. Supervisor Andersen talked about leadership and there is a lot of things that goes into what it means to help solve the problems of this county.
Let me just say since Supervisor Andersen said the leadership with regard to the salary, I think it was leadership that 4 of 5 members of this board voted to put a fire measure on the ballot to raise revenue for our fire district when Supervisor Andersen voted against that because she did not want to raise more revenue to bring back firefighters and fire stations.
I also think its leadership when your own Local 1 President says it should take less than a 2/3 vote of the public to raise new revenue for county employees and Supervisor Andersen does not. So I just want to put in perspective here that we all have different political policies.
The salary is not a very popular issue, I understand that, also with leadership is saying when we need to raise revenue for our employees who do services that is an important issue and I appreciate positions and you believe we should not go to the voters and ask for more money for fire or 2/3 instead of a majority vote of the people of this district or this county to raise revenue to improve services. That is a really important issue.
Let me say, there are many employees who deserve (Gioia interrupted)… I appreciate you get to put your thumb down that’s nice, let me be able to finish as well, I’d appreciate that. There are many county employees who also deserve equity adjustments and I think that is under discussion and negotiation
(Gioia cut off again with union heckles treating him to boos, interrupted, asking if he is qualified to serve—Mitchoff is cutting her off when Gioia asks Mitchoff if he could respond.)
Yes, you commented with judges with 7-years education, yes I have 7-years, I went to undergraduate school and law school and I opted like my father who was a public school teacher in Richmond to stop practicing law and be a representative for the people of west Contra Costa County and I am proud of that. I am proud that for the last 16-years I have worked to establish new youth centers. I looked at Local 1 in 2006 and said we have got to find a way to save Local 1 jobs at Doctors Hospital and look what happened, this Board supported us and that hospital while its on the verge of closing, its open today and hundreds of Local 1 members have jobs because of the leadership of my office and this board to keep Doctors Hospital open… Local 1 members are working at Doctors Hospital today, hundreds of them because of the leadership of this Board. So I want to be clear what leadership means.
I know that raising salaries is not popular, the attempt of this board was to say one, let’s join 12 of the 15 counties who are defined urban counties and Bay Area counties and set our salaries of percentage of judges so we don’t have to do that anymore. So that we can exactly avoid, I think what you are saying, is us setting our salaries. SO the median of the Bay Area and Urban Counties was about $130,000 so we set it a little under that.
We are not trying to set the highest; our colleagues across the County line in Alameda make $147,000 a year. That’s not our goal. Our goal was the median. You know, the issue of peoples education here, whether you have a law degree, undergraduate degree or high school diploma you should know as much as anyone it’s the hard work that you do or the hard work the people of this board do to serve the public and I think everyone here with different points of view does it well.
The issue of trying to take us out of the salaries was at the heart of this and yes can we do it over 2 years and 3 years, the decision at the last meeting was doing it at once so that we would not have all the political controversy around this.
(Gioia again treated to rumblings in the crowd)
In fact, later this afternoon, I am about to go to a meeting at Doctors Hospital to help preserve Local 1 jobs at 4:30. Your colleagues at another public institution. Yes, you can pat yourself on the back, you know I respect your work, and hopefully you respect the leadership of working together and let me say getting back to the point of equity adjustments.
(Gioia read a letter he wrote to US Chemical Safety Board; employees ultimately received a 20% raise)
We are open to understanding where there needs to be equity adjustments going forward for employees. I will say any of you can come to my office and talk further about this; I’ve always had an open door policy talking to every bargaining unit. Everyone does a great job with this county. We understand that there are opportunities to do salary adjustments, we understand that will be a part of negotiations above a 4% and I agree with some of you who say we do not necessarily compare to the right counties, and I have expressed that to the county administrator and I believe that because some of the counties on our list are not appropriate for employees, there should be others. Hopefully we will address that issue because I think comparing equally makes sense. So that was the history of some of this.
I think one of the speakers spoke about the increase in 2006, so I want to be transparent about this again. In 1999, the salary of Supervisors in Contra Costa was about $59,000. The salary of Supervisors in 2006 was $59,000. During those 7-years, while employees did take increases, the Board opted not to. What has happened historically in this county was rather than take increases every year or cost of living; the board has done these jumps all at once. I don’t think that is a good thing either. I think going forward, the idea is to link it to judges so as those go up incrementally over time, this board takes itself out of the decision making process and the increases go up a little at a time, that is better. That is not historically what this board has done. That is why Contra Costa was next to lowest in terms of salary of Supervisors and all Bay Area counties, including those much smaller than Contra Costa.
So hopefully we can avoid this in the future by being able to move on where we set our salary where we do not make these decisions and also the promise to our employees is that we will look seriously on every equity issue that comes up and understand what those needs are so we can treat our employees fairly in equity adjustments just like the 20% that was granted to the refinery inspectors—and I strongly advocated for that. We look forward to continuing the relationship.
Board votes 4-1 (Andersen no) in favor of increasing salary.
Photos by Nicole Marti