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Defeat of Prop. B Cements Labor’s Power

Publication Date: 
November 04, 2010
The New York Times
Elizabeth Lesly Stevens (The Bay Citizen)

Professor William B. Gould IV is quoted in the following New York Times article on the results of the California mid-term election with regards to San Francisco's Proposition B. His statement about unions in California is featured here:

The scene at Hi Dive, a bar on the Embarcadero tucked under the Bay Bridge, was a merry one late Tuesday night.

As election results rolled in, it became clear that San Francisco unions had trounced Proposition B, a measure that would have required the city’s 26,000 employees to contribute more toward their pensions and benefits. Once the tally was complete, 57.5 percent of San Francisco’s voters had sided with the unions.

Union leaders appeared surprised by the lopsided victory. Proposition B had been promoted by Jeff Adachi, the city’s public defender, and backed by former Mayor Willie L. Brown Jr., Eric Schmidt, Google’s chief executive, and Michael Moritz, a venture capitalist. Throughout the campaign, Mr. Adachi had argued that the city’s escalating employee costs would eventually force San Francisco to file for bankruptcy, like nearby Vallejo.


William B. Gould IV, who served as chairman of the National Labor Relations Board during the Clinton administration, said Mr. Brown’s election would breathe new life into pro-union initiatives in California.

Still, Mr. Brown cannot avoid dealing with the state’s huge pension liabilities, which mirror the problems of San Francisco and other municipalities.

“There will be no avoiding a stern posture in dealing with the public employee union pensions and related benefits,” said Mr. Gould, professor emeritus at Stanford Law School.