It seems that all over the country, unions are posturing to ensure their members continue to prosper, no matter what cost may be incurred by others. Never did I imagine that this would be happening in my own backyard!
I have the utmost respect for our police and fire officials and appreciate the services that they provide. My issue is not with them as individuals, but with the union control that dictates their membership.
I am voting no on the recall on Dec. 8 for the following reasons — and these are facts, not innuendos:
Public safety union members may retire at age 50 vs. age 55 for other city employees. They receive 3 percent of their annual salary for every year they work. So if they work 30 years, they get 90 percent of their salary. The entire amount of their retirement income is funded by the city — they pay nothing into their pension plan. The rest of the city employees pay a portion of their pension contributions. Most working citizens are responsible for paying a percentage into their retirement programs — why should public safety be excluded?
The public safety unions have funded 99 percent of the recall. Their contracts are up for review the first of the year and they know that there will be unwarranted increases as long as Jerry Kern remains on the council. The city is making substantial cuts in its budget, as are most cities in the state. An increase in any public employees’ salaries and benefits cannot be tolerated. And remember — an increase now means an increase in the amount of the pension they will receive at retirement. We, as taxpayers, cannot afford to pay an average salary of more than $100,000 each to our firemen and pay similar amounts to those retiring at the same time. And with more than 80 percent of the firefighters living outside the city of Oceanside, they will not pay any tax increases that could be imposed to fund their salaries. We who do live here will bear the full brunt of it.
These are trying times and there is certainly no room for greed. With so many people out of work, public safety employees are fortunate to have a job and receive the salaries they do — if only they will see that paying into their own retirement is the right thing to do. It is happening in other cities and is time for it to happen in Oceanside as well. If the council and the union cannot work together, the 67 percent public safety budget will bankrupt the city (as a reference, San Diego pays 55 percent, according to Mayor Jerry Sanders last week.)
It has been argued that Oceanside needs to take its city back. I couldn’t agree more! And one way we can do that is by sending a very clear message to the unions Dec. 8 that Oceanside is not for sale to the unions. It is time to stand up and be counted and vote no on the recall!
Gigi Gleason is an Oceanside native and resident.