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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

AB 455, Which Would Have Given Labor Huge Hand in Setting Wages, Is Vetoed

Posted By on Tue, Jul 26, 2011 at 10:59 AM

click to enlarge Looks like someone else will have to pull the strings... - FRED NOLAND
  • Fred Noland
  • Looks like someone else will have to pull the strings...

A bill that would have given the SEIU direct control over the body that sets the wages for San Francisco's mayor and board was yesterday vetoed by the governor

SF Weekly readers may recall a late June article about AB 455. That statewide bill would have altered the composition of counties' civil service commissions, splitting appointing authority between the county board of supervisors and its largest union. Here in San Francisco, that'd be the SEIU; in the San Jose district of bill author Assemblywoman Nora Campos, it'd be AFSCME -- which, interestingly, sponsored this bill. 

Civil service commissions establish wages, work rules, and benefits; adjudicate workplace disputes; and set minimum qualifications and standards for job examinations. Here in San Francisco, it also determines elected officials' compensation. Also in the city, it's a mayorally appointed body. AB 455 would have stripped that power from the mayor and divided the appointments between the labor-friendly Board of Supervisors and labor itself. 

Gov. Jerry Brown's terse explanation behind his veto sums up many of the complaints San Franciscans had  about the bill. 

"While intended to create more balanced commissions and address

concerns relating to individual commissions, this measure imposes a

top down, one-size-fits-all solution on all merit and personal

commissions statewide," it reads. "This measure seeks to impose a level of state control that is

inconsistent with my administration's efforts to realign state

services and to increase local control. Concerns relating to

specific commissions should be addressed on a case-by-case basis at

the local level."

Left unsaid was the oddity of giving a labor union direct appointing authority to a key government board. Had AB 455 become a reality, incidentally, the SEIU's nominees would not have required ratification by any other body. 

With this bill dead, those hoping to curry favor with the civil service commission will have to do so the old-fashioned way: lobbying. Hey, it's not as if the mayor can't be talked into anything, right? 

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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