Letter to Editor: Treat CSEA Members Equitably

Union's communications specialist decries demotions.

To the Editor:

Long Beach City Manager Jack Schirnman and the City Council suddenly and inexplicably demoted 25 CSEA members to lower pay grades in an ostensible case of union animus.

This dubious development victimized hard-working public servants who had earned promotions last year for serving the city with loyalty, dedication and going above and beyond the call of duty. They are the same people that dispatch 911 calls, enforce parking and safety, and pick up your garbage in all kinds of weather. They preserve the beaches, boardwalks, bathrooms and parks, make sure residents have clean and safe drinking water and maintain all water and sewer services. They care for the children, elderly and run all sports programs and city events for residents. They repair and maintain all vehicles, fire hydrants and streets. They plow the streets when it snows.

A larger-than-life example of their contributions to quality of life in Long Beach came last summer when many of them expertly operated heavy machinery to create large barriers of sand all along the ocean and bay beaches in an attempt to prevent surging walls of water from flooding the streets in the days before Hurricane Irene.

Clean-up operations began in earnest when the storm passed and the highway department cleared debris from local streets while the sanitation department picked up refuse deposited near homes and parks. Members of the beach crew replaced the large wooden posts that support the boardwalk that were broken or loosened by exposure to the pounding surf and salt water. All CSEA members worked all aspects of the clean up to ease the pain after Hurricane Irene to get the city back up in running in record time. We pulled off the impossible and we were able to still hold a world wide surfing event less than a week later.

CSEA members play a tangible role in making Long Beach among the most desirable communities to live on Long Island. We are not just a number and name on a piece of paper, but residents and taxpayers, too. We are CSEA, the backbone of the city, and all we ask is to be treated equitably and respectfully in return.

Rich Impagliazzo
Communications Specialist
CSEA Long Island Region

Stacey Keebler February 23, 2012 at 11:07 PM
Everyone on this site is missing the point. There are 450 workers for the city of Long Beach. Why are they just going after the lowest paid workers who average $40,000 k, while other employees in the city clear 6 figures. If there has to be cutbacks, it has to be fair and equitable for all employees, not just the CSEA. Thats my interpretation of the article.
anonymous February 23, 2012 at 11:35 PM
Alas, Stacey, you have discovered the basis for all unions existence...seniority.
Bill Callahan February 24, 2012 at 04:08 PM
10 years ago private sector people were laughing at the poor public sector workers. Now that the private sector gravy train has gone down the drain with it's company cars charge cards and bonuses, all u mortgage brokers and financial workers, who creat nothing and skim money from us poor public workers. Reep what you sow. To bad when you were younger you didn't take that civil service test.
Brendan February 24, 2012 at 04:26 PM
How can we simultaneously pay your salary and skim from you? Do you not understand how taxes work?
paul.d.spellman February 24, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Bill, How exactly is anyone "skimming money from us poor public workers"?
anonymous February 24, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Uh, Bill....you obviously didn't read my previous post "Public Sector Money Doesn't Grow on Trees" or else you would understand that the mortgage brokers, hedge funders, stock brokers, computer programmers, contractors, etc. are the ones who provide money for the public sector. Without them....you don't exist. But that's okay...you are just taking your cue from our beloved federal gov't (both parties) who prints money like crazy so to them, it really does grow on trees.
Bill Callahan February 24, 2012 at 08:47 PM
All those mortgage brokers financial advisors do is get us public sector workers to invest in your Ponsi schemes and give us loans we cannot afford and cause us to lose all our investments, all you did was take take take until now the fravy train has ended for you, so now all you do is complain about our salaries and benefits. You should have saved some of your money when the times were good instead of buying that giant boat or house in florida. I worked 2 full time blue collar jobs for 13 years before I was able to work only one job and actually see my family
anonymous February 24, 2012 at 09:00 PM
I see that the Hope and Change message of class warfare wasn't lost on you, Bill. Gold Star!!!!
V. P. R. February 24, 2012 at 10:04 PM
How True ! Anyone of you CLOWNS could have taken a civil service test." When times were good , you people wouldn't even dream being a civil servant* You should have taken the Test !!!!!!!!!! True !! Now that your Gravy Train Crashed , Now you complain about what Civil servants make! Put out your own Fire ! Pick up your own garbage * police your own streets * A Job 90% of you CLOWNS on here would never do * Now Stop Complaining , they give Civil Service tests everyday !! Go take one and SHUT UP * :-) wah wah !
anonymous February 24, 2012 at 11:09 PM
Hmmmm...it seems us "CLOWNS" are the only ones who understand simple economics. Good thing they didn't ask any questions like that on your civil service test. You probably had a hard enough time trying to figure out if cat was spelled with a "k" or a "c."
Bill Callahan February 24, 2012 at 11:29 PM
I must agree although I am not that straightfoward, if we didn't have civil servants we would be back in the stone ages. Who are you going to call when your sewer backs up. How about when a rabid dog terrorizes your neighborhood. Just a point in case I made a spelling error, I have a 10th grade education. But as long as I have 2 good hands and a strong back I will always feed my family and then some. And will never complain about the millions private sector made in the past. The gravy train is over people you better learn how to make a living with your own two hands.
Bill Callahan February 24, 2012 at 11:39 PM
And by the way we do make time and a half and double time, while you private sector people enjoyed your thanksgiving Christmas and Chanukah's with your families. Now you can enjoy your holidays on unemployment for 2 1/2 years while my taxes from my public sector job pays the freight.
anonymous February 25, 2012 at 12:57 AM
Bill...a 10th grade education my you-know-what....they didn't teach sarcasm until the 11th grade so clearly you made it that far. Bravo!!!
Bill Callahan February 25, 2012 at 01:36 AM
Sorry I am just trying to preserve my way of life, now that the private section has tanked, the newspapers are taking every chance to make everyone know how the public sector is doing and enve is showing it's evil head, our benefits are part of our salaries. We make less money but have good benefits. Yes some of us pay a portion of our benefits and pensions plus copayment. Yes we know our pay comes taxes but we WORK for our living, you wana go after someone go after the welefare program. I get drug tested randomly and I work for my money. Do welfare recipients get drug tested for their money
paul.d.spellman February 25, 2012 at 03:05 AM
Bill, You are all over the place, the "mortgage brokers financial advisors", now onto welfare recipients. Do you have a cognitive point to your message or are you just banging on the keyboard?
Bill Callahan February 25, 2012 at 03:28 AM
The point is stop blaming the little guy who cleans out the sewers or makes the streets safe or teaches our children or puts out the fires. When the stockmarket goes back up and all you private sector schemers find a way to make a buck again you will forget about us Civil servants. There is no keyboard banging going on here or personal attacks. I chose to be a civil servant for this stability. I will never become rich when the stockmarket goes up, but I will ba able to take care of my family when the market goes down. Point made
Bill Callahan February 25, 2012 at 03:45 AM
Paul I love having clean streets and the most beautiful sandy beaches on the east coast and I like the flowers on the malls for all the seasons and the beautiful holiday display the city puts up for all of us each year, I love the supervised recreation programs and all the other things long beach has to offer. Just because the private sector has gone bust and now my taxes have to pay all this private sector unemployment. Please please stop blaming the little 40 to 70 thousand dollar earner. Just move to the city where the taxes are a lot less and the streets are filthy and the beaches are zoos
Sheera February 25, 2012 at 04:32 AM
At the end of the day, we have hard workers in the CSEA union and I appreciate all that they do... If you want a shot at their salary + benefits, we welcome you because most of you think you're too good... Until then, stop your criticisms. Maybe you should criticise the friends and family hired from Suffolk, at higher pay rates that Schirnman and the council hired who do LB no gpod!
MikeC. February 25, 2012 at 02:49 PM
Back in 2008 when Lehman, Bear Stearns, AGI and Merrill Lynch started floundering,three personal friends of mine worked at these firms. To a man their main concern was for their January bonuses. Forget the fact that the performance of the employer across the board cost untold numbers of investors to lose their life savings; this was personal. I guess that makes sense; charity does begin at home, and how you pay your bills is a priority in any household. But it just seems wrong. If you work for a company that's going under due to systemic underperformance, why should you be rewarded when you've caused so much suffering? Compare these folks to the civil servants who are presently being subjected to such harsh scrutiny. Do you wish to dig out your street from a blizzard, cart your own trash to the dump, put out your own house fire or drive yourself to the hospital with chest pains? I think not. The point is that these people perform necessary services for not too much money. Ease up.
Bill Callahan February 25, 2012 at 05:24 PM
And we are not looking for a pat on the back, these are our jobs. We do them willingly we dont want anything we didnt bargained for collectively. Please stop attacking us publicly we are just trying to get by in these tough fiscal times. To be honest this class warfare which by the way is no war of ours is all brought upon by the media.
paul.d.spellman February 25, 2012 at 05:37 PM
Bill, You say your taxes are paying all this private sector unemployment? You are wrong. The taxes paid by the private sector are the ones paying the unemployment.
paul.d.spellman February 25, 2012 at 05:57 PM
Mike, You were so close. You said "If you work for a company that's going under due to systemic underperformance, why should you be rewarded when you've caused so much suffering?". The employees this piece of propaganda is attempting to support are those exact people you speak about. Why should these city employees have been rewarded with promotions and such whilst the city was in the beginning of financial instability. The new administration did exactly what you think should have been done and rescinded the promotions and raises.
Jay Gusler February 25, 2012 at 08:31 PM
I empathize with anyone losing their job or suffering a demotion in grade in the current economy, but I fail to see where they have the right to complain about it. The last administration gave out promotions and grade changes to their faithful supporters like lollipops on Halloween. Of course the workers involved didn't know it was all a ruse to temporarily purchase their support in the run-up to a tough election. Even if the Coalition had held power, those promotions and grade changes would still need to be 'repossessed' due to the now disclosed financial shenanigans of the prior administration. Just as it was wrong for the administration to have engaged in such a cruel course, so too is it wrong for the beneficiaries of these promotions and grade changes to bemoan the loss of something the City couldn't really afford to give them in the first place. I have to think that whatever reductions that have taken place to date (as well as those yet to come) will be in accordance with the applicable contractual provisions governing grade changes and bumping rights for retreating workers. It stinks for those affected, but everything is on the table in times such as these. The City has a big hole it needs to fill. Every little bit helps.
laocoon February 25, 2012 at 08:57 PM
If the truth were known, isn't this the pot calling the kettle black? Come on Man!
Jay Gusler February 25, 2012 at 09:10 PM
I'm lost as to just what you're implying. If you have something to say, go right ahead and say it. I, for one, welcome truth. For truth is my friend. That you may think otherwise only calls into question the quality of what you consider the truth. Go ahead, fire away. I'm sure it will give you great relief to unburden yourself from your self-imposed restraint. Oh, and while you're at it, maybe you'll consider posting it under your actual name, just like I do; always. I think it lends credibility; don't you agree?
Gino February 25, 2012 at 11:35 PM
In my line of work we stand behind our word. The city gave it's word to these people that they received raises. Now the City has gone back on it's word which is wrong. These people might have purchased something recently in the new reality of their paycheck. To take that way is wrong. I will say that it might not have been the most prudent thing to do, but they probably had no clue that the city's finances were in such bad shape. I don't see any individuals complaining; what I do see is a union trying to stick up for itself so it gets treated fairly. I understand the whole fiscal crisis thing, but I for one believe in the ideal of standing behind my word. The city gave it's word and now has gone back on it. That is the bottom line, and I respectfully disagree with anyone who see's this differently.
Jay Gusler February 26, 2012 at 01:47 AM
@Gino, I admire and agree with your stance regarding the sanctity of one's word, but I don't think it's applicable here. If the Coalition had hung on, they'd undoubtedly be recalling the very same promotions and grade changes that are involved here. Assuming this to be so, that would represent the City going back on its word. Instead, what we have here is new tenants in City Hall who have finally gotten a look at the books and found that there are many extravagances that the City simply cannot afford. These are not the people that made these "promises", that was the last batch of crooks. Many of the disputed changes were undertaken after the election, and with the full knowledge of the Coalition government that the financial cupboard was bare. They said the hell with the new administration and went ahead with these changes anyway. I can still hear Sofield flippantly stating that figuring out how to pay the City's workforce was going to be a problem for the next administration to figure out. So, while I hate to see the worker's suffer, much of this was the result of petty political gamesmanship by the outgoing Coalition government in its campaign to stick-it to the new guys. Sad, but true.
Gino February 26, 2012 at 04:33 AM
Fair enough Mr. Gusler, but I would have to disagree. I don't have to tell a person of your intellect that assuming is not a good way to go about life. You know what they say about the idea of to assume; it makes an ass out of u and me! We really don't have any clue as to how the coalition would have tried to solve our financial problem. What I do agree with is the idea that the city workforce is used as pawns in the political gamesmanship of controlling this city. Sad that the worker has to feel the brunt of it; sad but true.
Mike Torres February 29, 2012 at 07:32 PM
Candygram for Mongo February 29, 2012 at 07:50 PM
Pipe down and pay up Torres


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