Union leaders criticize Alameda finance officials’ comments
Union leaders and supporters of Mayor Marie Gilmore on Tuesday fired back at the city’s top elected finance officials, who said last week that the city is heading toward bankruptcy and that public safety workers should take pay and retirement benefit cuts to fix the city’s finances.
They compared City Treasurer Kevin Kennedy and City Auditor Kevin Kearney’s remarks to efforts to eliminate state workers’ collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin and said the city’s public safety unions have made “mounds of progress” at the bargaining table since Gilmore became mayor.
“You have a choice on how to resolve this. It doesn’t have to involve demonizing your public service employees and firefighters,” said Jim Oddie, co-president of the Alameda Democratic Club. “The way of the Tea Party that we see in Wisconsin – that’s not the Alameda way.”
International Association of Firefighters Local 689 political director Jeff DelBono said the union had made no headway in negotiations since they began in 2010, but that progress had been made in negotiations with Alameda’s four public safety unions over the past two and a half months. He said he’s hoping to be able to go public with the results of the negotiations sometime in the next few weeks.
“I think everybody needs to hold their comments and to see what happens and see what workers, and firefighters, are willing to do,” DelBono said. “There’s nothing we want more than a healthy employer. We do not want a bankrupt employer.”
Others criticized Kearney for saying some of Alameda’s firefighters “suck.”
“Making a comment that firefighters suck irresponsible. Any public official who makes a comment like that should reconsider their position,” said Mike Henneberry, communications director for United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 5.
Some residents criticized Gilmore for an editorial she submitted to local news outlets that called Kennedy and Kearney’s comments about the city’s finances irresponsible. They said they’re concerned about the city’s finances – and hopeful the council will hire someone experienced with managing them.
“I do feel strongly that you need to find somebody for our city manager position that has considerable financial experience,” resident Corinne Lambden said.