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New Group Crafting Ballot Measure to End Collective Bargaining for Public Employees

Lanny Ebenstein of the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association is guiding the efforts of Californians for Public Union Reform

By Giana Magnoli, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @magnoli |

The newly formed Santa Barbara-based group Californians for Public Union Reform is writing a statewide ballot measure that would end collective bargaining and put Lanny Ebenstein, president of the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association, at the helm.

Lanny Ebenstein
Lanny Ebenstein

Ebenstein started the nonprofit California Center for Public Policy and says this is a related effort from interested people around the state.

“Basically, the situation in California now is so significant, with respect to the budget deficits so many government agencies face, that the right solution to confronting these financial difficulties is to end public sector collective bargaining,” Ebenstein told Noozhawk on Monday.

Ebenstein said he is bothered by collective bargaining — which he said is a relatively recent concept in the labor movement — and the major donations by public-sector unions to political campaigns of the officials who vote on their salaries and benefits.

“The problem is that the government exists to serve the people, not public employees. But the way we structured finance in our society now, on the government level, is government is acting mostly in terms of public employees’ interest, not the public interest,” he said. “It’s just a nonprogressive policy and simply a policy that benefits one special interest.”

The ballot measure, which will be sent to Attorney General Kamala Harris this week, would impact state, county and city employees. The group believes that public-sector employees are given better overall compensation than employees in the private sector with salary, benefits and pensions and that money should be spent elsewhere.

The issue of salaries and benefits is a hot topic as municipalities are facing steep increases in Public Employee Retirement System costs and looking to labor concessions for one-time savings.

Locally, the City of Santa Barbara will pay 20.5 percent more into PERS in 2014 than it does now, and Ebenstein said a county employee costs $129,000 annually once salary, benefits, pension and tax costs are taken into account.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.




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» on 02.08.11 @ 12:54 AM

Bravo!  We are on board.

» on 02.08.11 @ 12:32 PM

Finally.  The politicians have made it obvious that they will not address this problem.  Please publish a website or email that will allow others to join in.

» on 02.08.11 @ 01:20 PM

It’s a great idea.  With Brown at the helm of a liberal government, how can it pass?  One can only hope.

» on 02.08.11 @ 02:07 PM

It is about time, tell us how we can help make this happen.

» on 02.08.11 @ 03:38 PM

To try to deny a segment of the labor force - any segment - the right to bargain with their employers over their collective interests violates substantial values of a democracy.  The problem is not with the process, but that the bargainers on the taxpayer’s side are simply inept.  You don’t ban baseball just because the rest of the league gets lazy, dumb, or corrupt and enables the Yankees to win all the time. It is our fault: we elect shortsighted or ignorant officials who are incompetent to bargain effectively, for whatever reason.  If we banned teachers unions, say, and it turned out the individuals were able to negotiate even higher benefits on their own, what would you do then? Insist on reinstituting unions?

» on 02.08.11 @ 04:41 PM

Since you are obviously historically ignorant let me try to educate you.  The godfather of you, oh so brilliant, progressives – F.D.R. Said that to offer public employees the right to collective bargaining would end up destroying and bankrupting the nation.  Gee…I hate to say that this petty dictator was right but boy was he so right! As for J.F.K I loved his economic policies and his appreciation of Special Forces, but his executive order (notice it was not a law) to give public employees the right to unionize and collectively bargain has been an integral portion of our nations current economic dilemma.  Another President…maybe 2013 should rescind the order immediately. 

“To try to deny a segment of the labor force - any segment - the right to bargain with their employers over their collective interests violates substantial values of a democracy.” - B.S. I think if I spent a couple of minutes on this quote I could find the exact same quote from those pillars of freedom, Stalin, Lenin, Trotsky, Marx, Chavez.

“ The problem is not with the process, but that the bargainers on the taxpayer’s side are simply inept.” Or could it just be that the same people that negotiate their contracts are the same people these same unionists contribute to for their campaigns?  Nah…that would be too obvious.

“You don’t ban baseball just because the rest of the league gets lazy, dumb, or corrupt and enables the Yankees to win all the time.”  - The Yankees win all the time?  They won this years World Series.  Holy Cow I need to refund my winnings back to JT.

“It is our fault: we elect shortsighted or ignorant officials who are incompetent to bargain effectively, for whatever reason.”  Of course they are ignorant, shortsighted officials that can’t bargain effectively…they are Democrats.  What else is new?

“If we banned teachers unions, say, and it turned out the individuals were able to negotiate even higher benefits on their own, what would you do then? Insist on reinstituting unions?” Nope, I’d just make sure they do the job ore they are out.

» on 02.08.11 @ 08:10 PM

Lanny, Lanny Lanny,
Your motives always seem logical . . . on the surface.

The unions did not bankrupt this state; not workers’ wages, benefits or pension plans.  It is the special interests that don’t pay enough taxes, and all those special favors doled out by our legislature, and how about those wall street experts that invested our retirement funds.

The University workers are paid 12-20% less than those in the Santa Barbara area (for comparable jobs) . . . and that’s just one example. 

Let’s see, if that 12-20% had been invested in a retirement fund . . . doesn’t that sound familiar. 

Lanny, it is complicated . . . don’t simplify it by blaming collective bargaining.  It happened because . . . .

» on 02.08.11 @ 08:31 PM

Now let me get this straight.  California has unfunded pensions in excess of 400 billion and they are not funded BECAUSE California businesses…you know – the ones that are leaving the state by the hundreds because of it’s forward thinking attitude toward them, and the same ones that actually produce marketable products and “shazamm” also might make a dastardly profit, the same ones that have to pay for such programs like Cap & Tax – they haven’t picked up the ball to pay for all those public employee perks?  Wow, and here I thought that it was the result of the tremendous negotiating skills of union supported politicians in Sacramento.  Who knew.  I stand corrected, chastised, depressed and truly in awe of the amazing success progressives have in running California.  Please, Road Wench, forgive me, and Lanny’s, transgressions.

» on 02.09.11 @ 02:12 AM

I agree with Duchess of the Roadway that some government workers are paid less than private counterparts and should get raises.  I think the top teachers should make at least double what they make (Washington DC schools are doing a nice job in this area).  But on the other side we have way to many government workers and teachers that should be off the payroll. 
Union (or not) we can not tolerate downstream liabilities.  We need to pay everyone a fair wage and pay it the year they do the work.  The idea of having hidden downstream pension liabilities should keep us all up at night!
Go Lanny!!!

» on 02.09.11 @ 01:49 PM

that’s right, we elect people who love to give away other people’s money—our taxes.  What is more democratic than getting something on the ballot that says you don’t get to rip us off with your threats of strikes and intimidation?
Aren’t you, fellow taxpayer, tired of hearing the assertion of public employees that they are more professional and thus should be paid more, at a time when there are professionals, PhDs on down the education ladder,  all over America who are out of work?

Government employment has turned into part of the nanny state, a welfare system for the mediocre.

» on 02.09.11 @ 07:24 PM

Dignity is key.

We may need fewer “workers”, perhaps those that assist our legislatures, but certainly not fewer teachers.

I support business, especially local small business.

Businesses, in some ways, have a union.  I believe they are called lobbyists. So,let’s consider abolishing lobbying in Calfornia. Personally, I think lobbyist are worse than Unions.

Remember, the State workers that receive the highest pensions are non-union workers. Even better, institute a pension maximum that can not be more than what the individual would receive in Social Security benefits.  There are plenty of options.

Collective Bargaining does decrease profit for those that were underpaying their workers in order to make a profit. Then, the cycle begins . . .  It happens because . . .

On the road again . . .

» on 02.11.11 @ 05:29 PM

Go union go broke!

America’s new slogan..cut all union wages, perks, Cars, phones, extended holidays, 6 weeks of vacation, special holidays, numerous Sick days—150K salaries. Pensions

Who works for whom???? Servants of the people..NO

» on 02.12.11 @ 02:07 AM

Duchess, you’re missing something pretty obvious here.  Allowing the public employee unions collective bargaining rights with the people whose elections they fund so obviously distorts the process that even an illusion of fairness is impossible to maintain.  One has only to observe the behavior of the likes of Salud Carbajal, owned and operated by the public employee unions, to see the effects:  not only does he vote to continue to give them raises and benefits far in excess of private sector equivalents (as proven by any NON-union funded study) while the County is awash in red ink, he actually proposes legislation to ensure that only union labor would be employed by the County for construction projects, all the while mouthing platitudes about the ‘downtrodden worker’.  Please.  This is 2011 not 1920.  If a private company engaged in the kind of mutual gratification and self-dealing our politicians and unions do you’d be screaming for blood.

So here’s my offer:  eliminate ALL unions and ALL lobbyists, nationwide.

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