According to Contra Costa County Employees Unions, they have gathered more than 33,500 signatures which will force the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors to reconsider a $32,000 pay increase.
Friday morning, the unions will submit the signatures to the County Clerk. If verified by the clerk, it will trigger Board Rescission or a Special Election—a special election could be costly.
The effort, which began in mid-November, began after the Board of Supervisors ignored weeks of employee and constituent comments against their proposed 33% pay increase and pushed ahead the raise on November 4th.
In November, the Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 (Andersen voting no) on a salary adjustment which netted them a $32,000 pay increase and tied their salaries to the salaries of judges. 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).
In response, a coalition of partners opposing the Board of Supervisor raise formed and launched the referendum effort to overturn the Supervisors’ ordinance.
“The voters of this county have spoken against Karen Mitchoff, Mary Piepho, John Gioia and Federal Glover’s ill-advised 33% pay increase. It’s time these four supervisors put on their listening ears, acknowledge their constituents’ declaration, and rescind their titanic raise,” said Peter Nguyen, General Manager of Local 1.
According to a Press Release, in five weeks, signature gatherers (many of whom were volunteers) canvassed the entire county, enduring the cold, battling downpours, and competing with holiday shopping. The more the voters learned about the issue, the more incredulous and engaged they became. They helped spread the word—and circulate the petition—across west, central, east, and south county. By mid-December the petition sheets were being turned in at an incredible pace. Every few days there was another batch of signatures in the thousands.
Ken Westermann, former President of DSA, explained that “the referendum is about leadership and integrity. The people expect their elected leaders to lead by example. Candace Andersen aside, the Supervisors should be embarrassed, and publicly apologize to the employees and the people they were elected to represent.”
Cheryll Grover of AFSCME added “This is not a right or left issue. It is a right or wrong issue. The Board of Supervisors should know right from wrong. Time will tell if 35,000 (likely more) of their constituents can get through to the four supervisors when three public meetings and a large number of speakers could not.”
The bulk of the signatures were gathered between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The issue connected with voters, and the campaign caught fire. Those who signed the petition started asking for petition sheets so they too could be part of the referendum effort. In recent history, no board decision has engendered this type of constituent mobilization and community grassroots organizing.
Nov. 19: Contra Costa Unions Set to Announce Referendum to Overturn 33 percent Supervisor Pay Raise
Nov. 13: Contra Costa Deputy Sheriffs Association Starts Petition to Reverse Supervisor Salary Increase
Nov. 7: Under Union Protest, Board of Supervisors Vote to Increase Salary by $32k
Nov. 4: Letter: Local 1, Board of Supervisor Pay Raise a Bad Decision and Self-Serving
Oct. 30: Local 1 Calls for Emergency Rally Encouraging Board of Supervisors to Rescind $32k Raise
Oct. 29: Transcript: Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors Vote for $32k Raise