Another View on Alameda Politics

Regarding the recent commentary (“Alameda Politics: Not What is Seems” Aug. 23), I agree with the title but see it from the other side. 

When I went to work for the federal government, we were not allowed to negotiate for wages and benefits and neither were the people working for the State of California. Nor were we allowed to go on strike. Why? 

Because a fair wage is not determined in a monopoly and the government is a monopoly. So the only way to determine a fair wage for someone in a monopoly is to take a survey in the private sector of jobs requiring similar knowledge, skill and ability.

I was enrolled in the Civil Service Retirement System which is basically a 1.93 percent system. Most state workers were in the 2 percent miscellaneous CALPERS system. In other words, I had to work 41.5 years to get 80 percent of my highest three years of salary (the maximum allowed). If I worked more that 41.5 years I just got a little more pay because they stopped taking out for retirement. 

State workers had to work 40 years to get 80 percent of their highest one-year salary (not averaging the high three years sets up the possibility of spiking). 

Then the Democrats took control of the state legislature and allowed workers to negotiate for wages and benefits. It then became extremely important to the union to determine who would be sitting across the table from them when it was time to negotiate the contract. This was a coup. No longer would anyone who could balance a checkbook be elected.

As a result BART gets more money put into its benefit package than most workers get as salary. And we have experienced BART going on strike to hold the public hostage to get outlandish pay and benefits.

The local governments have also increased the benefits significantly. In Oakland, where I was raised, city employees get at least a 2.7 percent retirement which means they get to 80 percent in 29.6 years. Do they then qualify for more than 80 percent for additional years of service?

We are obviously in a booming economy. Many jobs are being created in this area and Alameda is building large numbers of two- and three-story residences. They have to be awash with cash. Yet we get a ballot measure because the city is going broke paying excessive employee pensions. 

Because the state is very liberal, the corrupt practice of negotiating wages and benefits with the implicit understanding that the union funded the elected officials campaign and they better pony up, will not be discontinued. So we will have to keep on keeping on.

The aforementioned commentary also implied that it is acceptable to take away property rights to cover up the fact that the (collective) city councils around the Bay Area screwed up the jobs-to-housing balance so bad that housing prices are out of control. 

I believe property rights are one of the pillars of a free society and it is only socialist wanna-be communists that believe taking away property rights is the way to solve the problems they created.

Peter Muzio lives in Alameda.