Transparent California applauds Palo Alto City Council’s transparency initiative

Transparent California — the state’s largest public pay and pension database — commends Palo Alto Vice Mayor Eric Filseth and Councilmen Tom DuBois, Greg Scharff and Greg Tanak for their proposal to increase transparency in collective bargaining negotiations with government unions.

As was first reported by the Palo Alto Daily Post, the proposal seeks to shed light on “wage, benefit and pension decisions [which] are currently reached through essentially private negotiations, without meaningful opportunity for public examination.”

Transparency in labor negotiations is mandatory for a truly representative government, according to Transparent California Executive Director Robert Fellner:

We applaud the Palo Alto City Council for recognizing that the status quo of secrecy in labor negotiations is incompatible with an accountable and representative form of government. Not only does secrecy in negotiations keep the public in the dark about the expenses they are required to pay for, we’ve even seen examples of councilmembers who have approved labor contracts without fully recognizing the extent of the taxpayer-funded perks provided within.

Providing the public with advance notice of the fiscal impact of proposed contracts provides taxpayers with the information necessary to make an informed decision. The status quo of secrecy, by contrast, requires taxpayers to pay the full costs associated with any labor contract, while denying them the opportunity to have their voices heard. Such a notion is incompatible with a healthy democracy, and the Council deserves tremendous credit for proposing to bring sunlight into their labor negotiations.

The Council’s proposal will be heard on February 26, 2018 from 9:15-10:00 PM, according to the agenda.

For more information, please contact Robert Fellner at 559-462-0122 or

Transparent California is California’s largest and most comprehensive database of public sector compensation and is a project of the Nevada Policy Research Institute, a nonpartisan, free-market think tank. The website is used by millions of Californians each year, including elected officials and lawmakers, government employees and their unions, government agencies themselves, university researchers, the media, and concerned citizens alike. Learn more at