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

Ed Lee Puppet by Fred Noland.jpg
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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What's next? Unions determining their own salaries?

With crap like this, you realize the Wisconsin really did the right thing in banning public service unions.


A truly shocking bill.  And I knew nothing about it.  Presumably our legislators passed this bill, since that's how it landed on the governor's desk in the first place.  Who voted for this anti-democratic, anti-transparancy bill and who did not?  Let me guess how Ammiano voted!

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