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Administrator’s Email Calls Some San Jose Workers ‘Useless’

SAN JOSE (KCBS) – San Jose city workers are fighting mad about a 9-month-old email from the city’s retirement director to a city councilman in which ten percent of the work force is called “totally useless.”

Now some workers within the police department, fire department and library are calling for the firing of Retirement Services Director Russell Crosby.

In an email to City Councilman Sam Liccardo, Crosby refers to an article in the Economist magazine, and calls ten percent of the city workforce “totally useless” and another ten percent “marginally employed.”

KCBS’ Tim Ryan Reports:

Long time fire battalion chief Robert Sapien was one of the workers speaking out against Crosby.

“My experience having supervised hundreds of fire department employees is that this characterization is complete fiction,” he said.

Both Mayor Chuck Reed and Councilman Liccardo released settlements praising the public workforce.

Crosby did not return calls from KCBS seeking comment.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

More from Tim Ryan
  • Milan Moravec

    As businesses, universities, states, counties, cities stumble through the recession some find themselves in a phase of creative disassembly. Hundreds of thousands of jobs are shed. World class University of California Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau ($500,000 salary) and his $7 million outside consultants are firing employees via Birgeneau’s “Operational Excellence (OE)”: 2,000 axed by end 2011. Yet many cling to an old assumption: the implied, unwritten management-employee contract.

    Management promised work, upward progress for employees fitting in, employees accepted lower wages, performing in prescribed ways, sticking around. Longevity was good employer-employee relations; turnover a dysfunction. None of these assumptions apply in the 21 century economy. Businesses, universities, public institutions can no longer guarantee careers, even if they want to. Managements paralyzed themselves with a strategy of “success brings successes” rather than “successes brings failure’ and are now forced to break implied contract with employees – a contract nurtured by management that future can be controlled.

    Jettisoned employees are discovering that hard won knowledge earned while loyal is no longer desired in employment markets. What contract can employers, employees make with each other?

    The central idea is simple, powerful: job is a shared partnership.
    • Employers, employees face financial conditions together; longevity of partnership depends on how well customers, constituencies needs are met.
    • Neither management nor employee has future obligation to the other.
    • Organizations train people.
    • Employees create security they really need – skills, knowledge that creates employability in 21st century economies
    • The management-employee loyalty partnership can be dissolved without either party considering the other a traitor.

    Sustained employability in the 21st century economy is security. Employability: are you employable in the job market?

    • JQP

      Aside from using this as a springboard for your thesis, what’s your point? (in relation to THIS article, that is.)


  • Ed

    Gee only 10%

  • The New Mayor

    I know that 10% is false. I would say closer to 40%. The cops moan and complain and blame the Mayor for why they are late to the scene of a crime or disturbance. Police and Fire department get paid way too much and the city is going broke.
    If they got rid of the Unions and lowered the salaries of the Cops and Fire department in these tough times people would perform these jobs for much less. Maybe even 50% with less benefits. Unions are the problem. The only ones who back the Unions are those who are lucky enough to be part of this organized finacial burden crime family!!!!

    • DaPoPoMan

      Provide a basis for your arguments. How do you know police complain and blame idiot mayor upchuck for why it takes them so long to respond? Both police and fire have taken pay cuts to help out. How qualified would the “people” be who would perform these jobs for less? A lot of people believe law enforcement and fire protection jobs are easier than they actually are, if you doubt that go on some ride-a-longs with police and see for yourselves what they deal with and you still won’t have any clue about the required knowledge and constraints of the job.

  • The New Mayor

    Let me also comment that I was a Teamster and witnessed this first hand how the Union protected these useless POS workers.

  • JaneQPublic

    Quote from article: “Now some workers within the police department, fire department and library are calling for the firing of Retirement Services Director Russell Crosby.”

    Methinks they had best BACK OFF from calling for anyone to be fired for honestly stating what members of the public have seen with their own eyes all too often.

    • DOH!

      Opinons are like a##holes, everyone has one and they all stink. Time to put the ball gag back in there Jane.

  • thisisastory?

    I think 10% is pretty standard in any organization. We’ve ALL experienced working with people that don’t pull their weight, so what’s the big deal here? Unless it hit too close to home… defensive, much?

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