VIDEO and PRESS RELEASE. Video from the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (Midpen aka MROSD) meeting on Wednesday, August 10th, 2022 at 7:00pm by Zoom.
NOTE: There are 27 Rangers. They can not unionize, as they are employees. Their current pension plan is 39% of their salary, the same as office staff. But the Ranger jobs are not the same. The Rangers are asking for a “Public Benefits Pension Plan” that would be 75% of their salary on retirement with the idea that their jobs are physically harder on the body.
The General Manger of Midpen, Ana Maria Ruiz, expressed concern that this expensive expense might cause Midpen to reduce levels of public service and programming.
As a taxpayer and user of Open Space, how do you want your money spent?
~ Michelle Dragony, Chief Buzz Officer of Coastside Buzz
Press Release from the Midpeninsula Rangers Peace Officers Association (MRPOA) on August 12th, 2022.
Los Altos, CA – At the August 10th Board of Directors meeting for the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (District), the District board voted unanimously to impose working rules on the Midpeninsula Rangers Peace Officers Association (MRPOA).
After a presentation from the District’s General Manager Ana Ruiz, Assistant General Manager Brian Malone, Chief Financial Officer Stefan Jaskulak, and their legal council Jack Huges of Liebert, Cassidy, Whitmore, each board member asked questions of the staff about the General Manager’s recommendation to impose work rules on the POA.
This was followed by nearly 70 minutes of public comments, including many of the MRPOA members and their families, Ranger professionals local and statewide, and the general public all expressing their desire for the Board to not approve imposing the rules and for the District to return to negotiations with a public safety option. However, it is unclear if all of the Board members heard the comments, as at least one District Board member was seen on video at the end of public comments to no longer be at his computer and only his empty seat was seen. It is unknown at what point Director Cyr walked away from the public comments, as the directors are not seen during this time.
Despite the unanimous public support for the Rangers given during the meeting and a letter from California State Senator Dave Cortese of the Fifteenth Senate District, the board voted to impose working rules on District Rangers. Dave Cortese, who sits as the Senate Chair for the Labor, Public Employment, and Retirement Committee, summarizes the requests of the public best when he said, “I respectfully ask that you continue good faith negotiations with the Midpeninsula Rangers POA instead of imposing work rules on the Rangers. In particular, I ask that their request for a public safety benefits pension plan be moved forward by the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District Board of Directors.”
POA president Alexander Hapke had this to say about the vote. “The public has now seen how the negotiations process unfolded. We went in with our best arguments backed up with data and facts. Their decision however, had already been made, so there was no need to address any of our concerns. The District only provided speculative projections and incomplete answers to more detailed questions about their chart. This has never been about protecting rangers for the District Board, and the public needs to hear the real reasons why they don’t want to give us safety retirement.”
The new working rules fail to provide sufficient protection to veteran Rangers and continues to not provide any protection benefits to Rangers with less than 5 years of service. They stripped away binding arbitration’s protections for both parties and replaced it with a system that only protects the District. Surprisingly, by imposing this contract, they also removed the language prohibiting striking.
Despite all of this, the POA president Alexander Hapke stated, “The District wants the POA to give up. But we cannot, because POA members are determined to get the necessary public safety benefits to protect ourselves from the hazards of our job.”
As they were before the vote to impose, the POA is ready to negotiate on a contract that contains a public safety benefit. They are waiting on the District to return with that option despite the District imposing everything they want.
Half Moon Bay Review, Wednesday, August 10th, 2022, By August Howell