Palo Alto workers call on City Council to invest in public safety

Palo Alto CouncilMore than 175 Palo Alto city workers converged on City Hall on Jan. 13 to issue a dire warning to city council about the dangerous lack of investment in crucial public services.

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The problem: Palo Alto no longer provides competitive wages in the region and is losing skilled workers to neighboring communities and private utilities. This has created a staffing crisis that could ultimately undermine our ability to provide the residents of Palo Alto with high quality public services and threaten the public’s safety.

The city has been in negotiations with public workers for several months, but has been unwilling to help come up to a solution. SEIU Local 521 came to the negotiating table with specific solutions to address the concerns of the city. The city has responded by walking away from the negotiations and declaring an impasse.

On Monday, city negotiators were scheduled to address City Council in a closed door session. Faced with a room full of city workers, council changed their itinerary and our voices were heard. Those who spoke at the event included Margaret Adkins, Chair of the Palo Alto Chapter of SEIU Local 521, who gave council an overview of the crisis; Pete Quiros, a gas worker concerned who has watched his coworkers get poached by higher paying utilities and private-sector competitors; Jesse Cruz, the city’s sole remaining electrical systems operator, who is on call 24/7 because there is no one else left with the know-how to keep the lights on; Aaron Miller, a dedicated water quality and control plant mechanic who has had to take a second job to help support his family; and Lane Pianta the production manager of the Palo Alto Children’s theater who wants the city to replace the theatre’s retiring costume designer with another full-time position instead of part-time contractors.

Media Coverage
Palo Alto Online: Palo Alto calls impasse in union talks

We need to hear from you on what to do next! The action on Monday night was incredible, and between now and Jan. 22, we will probably have a good idea of what the city’s intent is at this point. We need to be able to communicate to you what that intent is, where we are, and present different options for how we proceed.

For more information, consult your union steward or your Internal Organizer, Christopher Edwards at (650) 801-3500 or

Stay Informed!

– Visit your chapter web page frequently:

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