Modesto pension costs skyrocketing


The Backstory to Modesto Pensions
As Mayor I thought I had seen and heard it all – until I learned the backwater process of negotiation with the numerous Modesto employee collective groups.

Negotiations are not simply with “the city employee”
Every few years, mandated processes of negotiation (shakedown) involving these employees on the public payroll takes place with the City.  The city negotiates with over a dozen separate groups.    In these meetings, demands are made of the City, by these groups with high powered San Francisco negotiators complete with weeping salary studies showing how underpaid and underappreciated City employees are in comparison with their private sector equivalents.

How I found out the backstory to negotiations
When I was Mayor, it was procedure to have a non-biased, high level member of management in the room. The purpose of this person was to observe, and aid in the negotiation process from an unbiased opinion.  In discussions with this City observer after the first ne-negotiation I learned much.

It turns out these meetings drag on for hours and days, the most perfunctory details were discussed Ad nauseam, everything from paid shoe-string replacement to grace periods for showing up as much as two-hours late to work.  The back story of this is what happened on the last few hours of the last day of the “negotiations”.   Suddenly it became clear that the members on both sides of the negotiating table were for the most part approaching retirement age.

Amazing – a win-win for both sides emerges
Amazingly, both sides dropped the silly animosity and begun to COLLABORATE on the “serious issues”, such as converting unused sick leave to lifetime health insurance, and a rapid-fire golden benefits agreement that lasted an hour (yes only an hour-long) – a lovefest on pension benefits for retirees.    The previously opposing groups (with the same goal of golden retirement plans) hammered out a deal that is just now coming home to roost in unfunded retirement mandates.

Projected costs incorrect
An earlier article in the Modesto Bee surrounding the skyrocketing costs the City provided a projected cost of $27.9 million for the 2018-19 year, yet todays Bee record the actual cost of $29 million.