E-Mail Forum
Bates Blasts Opponents Over Marshall Walker Leave Of Absence
October 26, 2001
On October 18, 2001, you heard it first from the TOM BUTT E-FORUM that Nat Bates would attempt to turn the issue of compensated leave of absence by SEIU Local 790 President Marshall Walker into a campaign issue. Sure enough, the piece arrived in yesterday’s mail, complete with a distorted photo of Walker well-fitted for this Halloween season.

Bates sets himself apart as the only mayoral candidate not voting for the leave of absence. I cannot speak for the other candidates, but I can tell you why I voted for it.

SEIU Local 790 represents all of the non-management employees of the City of Richmond except for police and firefighters. Because of the decades-long power of Darrell Reese and his affiliation with both the RPOA (police) and particularly Local 188 (firefighters), the public safety unions have been able to maintain a higher guaranteed level of compensation than the members of SEIU Local 790. For example, the current MOU with public safety employees guarantees annual adjustments to keep them in the top third among their peers in similar Bay Area cities.

SEIU Local 790 employees, however, are only adjusted to the median compensation of their peers, and adjustments are made only periodically, but less than annually, for all positions.

In any labor contract, there are a number of specific benefits negotiated that go beyond wages, including vacation and sick leave, overtime, uniform allowance, education and training allowance, etc. Benefits such as these cost money and can be quantified. For the last several years, it has been a high priority for Local 790 to see some of their total compensation package allocated to supporting Marshall Walker as president of their union. The cost is roughly equivalent to less than $0.10 per hour, or maybe ½ of one percent, of the wages of each union employee. Far from being the “taxpayer fleecing” that Bates suggests, this is simply part of an overall package for the least powerful of Richmond’s public employee unions. There are other possible benefits to the City that were described in the October 18, 2001, E-FORUM.

What Bates is not telling is that, for decades, he and his cronies kept Darrel Reese on the City payroll while Reese ran a lucrative lobbying operation out of a City fire station. Earlier this year, Bates tried to intimidate the City Council into passing a version of “3% at 50” that would have bankrupted the City and made Walker’s salary look like chicken feed. If there is any fleecing going on, Bates is the one doing it.