Opinion: SCC Libertarians on “reckless” SJ union deal: excessive, kicks the can to future voters

Joe Dehn and Brian Holtz—respectively the Santa Clara County Libertarian Party’s chair and secretary—parse last Tuesday’s vote by the SJ City Council to boost city workers’ paychecks by 14.5% over three years. Raising salaries that are, by and large, already competitive creates short-term goodwill between pols/Labor, but needlessly shifts funds away from core services. An Opp Now exclusive.

Joe Dehn:

This deal approved by the city council exemplifies the continuing failure of local politicians to do their real job. They are supposed to be representing us as citizens and taxpayers. Instead they are acting more like representatives of government workers and other special interests.

And while the mayor is saying he would have preferred a slightly lower 13 percent increase (compared with the 14.5 percent increase, over three years, that the city council approved), that still would have been way too high, and irresponsible.

Neither the mayor nor council members are willing to address the real issue. City government is too big and trying to do too many things. Politicians have an incentive to expand programs because it gets them votes from specific constituencies. But robbing Peter to pay Paul isn’t a sustainable strategy, because eventually Peter will either be broke or move out of town!

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There is a sickness here, and it’s spreading all across California. Other cities in Santa Clara County will take this agreement with unions in San Jose as a sign that it’s okay for them to act similarly. The leaders of this county’s largest city have an obligation to their own citizens of course, but it would be helpful if they could also set a good example of long-term problem solving for the rest of the county—instead of an example of continued reckless spending for short-term political expediency.

Joe Dehn is chair of the Libertarian Party of Santa Clara County and a 2024 candidate for U.S. Congress, District 17.

Brian Holtz:

Career politicians on San Jose’s city council are buying votes for next year’s election from the government-employee unions that control them. Once again, the union payoffs are a price that will be paid by future voters—many too young to vote in those 2024 elections.

Average SJ police pay in 2022 was $189K—not counting pension and health-care benefits. [1] In 2019, average total compensation for local government employees in California was $143K, more than double the $71K for private-sector workers. [2]

Associate transportation specialist and expectant mother Sarah Abroff told the SJ Spotlight, “this agreement finally meets the standard for paid family leave in the region.” [3] In 2022, Abroff received $152K in total pay and benefits. [4]

But Jesse Perez remains unsatisfied. The building trade supervisor at the Department of Public Works and a union bargaining committee member told the SF Chronicle that the deal merely “creates a platform where we can grow from and continue…to get the compensation that we deserve.” [5] Perez’s 2019 compensation was $265K, and he’s no exception: His three fellow supervisors all made over $200K that year—the highest fetching $305K. [6]

At least San Jose has a retirement system independent of CalPERS, but past efforts to reform it faced opposition in the courts. [7] San Jose taxpayers deserve better treatment than what they’re getting from Big Government politicians who buy union votes today with the tax burden of tomorrow. Libertarian candidates will stand up to unions, stand up for taxpayers, and shift public services to the competitive private sector. Only competition and consumer choice can bring the efficiency and innovation that San Jose deserves.

Brian Holtz is Secretary of the Libertarian Party of Santa Clara County and an elected director at La Purissima Hills Water District.

Original Opinion from Opportunity Now.