San Jose Mailer Stirs Up Political Controversy

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(AP)

SAN JOSE (KCBS) – Several unions representing various San Jose city employees have gone on record trying to distance themselves from a politically-charged mailer that was distributed over the weekend.

The mass mailing, orchestrated by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, refers to a handful of city councilmembers as “hypocrites” for standing behind Mayor Chuck Reed’s efforts to balance the budget by slashing the employees’ pay and benefits – without reducing their own financial perks as city councilmembers.

It would appear the mailer was timed to arrive immediately before Tuesday’s council meeting, when lawmakers would formally vote on Reed’s budget proposal. Indeed, there is a proposal on the table to cut pay and benefits for all city workers by 10%.

KCBS’ Matt Bigler Reports:

However, the controversy has erupted because the mailer erroneously suggests that the City Council has not addressed its own compensation. Just days before the mailer was distributed, the councilmembers did in fact vote to slash their own benefits by 10 percent. The proposal was not unanimously approved by the councilmembers – councilmen Xavier Capos, Kansen Chu and Ash Kalra voted against it on May 31 – but the proposal passed, nonetheless.

There was no immediate comment from the union behind the mailer, but other city employee unions have subsequently been quoted as saying they do not want to be “lumped in” with this. In fact, a lobbyist for unions representing San Jose’s maintenance supervisors, architects and engineers, mid-level managers and firefighters was quoted in a local newspaper as saying his groups wanted to distance themselves from the mailers.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees represents San Jose’s planners, code enforcers, administrative assistants and city librarians.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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