Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait and Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido, mayors to two cities with a significant number of union workers, have both lent their names in support of a new ballot measure aimed at “reforming” public employee union pensions.
San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed leads the effort which included San Bernardino Mayor Pat Morris, and Pacific Grove Mayor Bill Kampe. Tait is the only Republican behind this initiative. Leaders of public employee unions are furious.
From the story in the Mercury News:
Representatives of government labor unions blasted the effort, which Reed has been working on for more than a year, as nothing more than an attempt by conservative and corporate interests to punish public employees for financial woes they blame on Wall Street. They argue the public isn’t supportive of reducing the retirement security of cops, firefighters, teachers and other government workers.
“It will allow public employers to unilaterally cut the retirement benefits promised to current teachers, firefighters, police officers and school bus drivers,” said Dave Low, chairman of Californians for Retirement Security, which represents some 1.6 million current and retired public employees.
But the mayors argued the initiative still would let employees keep the benefits they earned to date while allowing government employers to negotiate changes needed to curb runaway costs and avoid further cuts to programs and services.
The proposed Pension Reform Act of 2014 would amend the California Constitution to give government agencies clear authority to negotiate changes to existing employees’ pension or retiree healthcare benefits. The changes would apply “going-forward,” allowing employees to keep the benefits they have earned to date but letting employers reduce what they’d earn for the remainder of their careers.
The ballot measure is designed to provide mayors and city councils with “more flexibility” to deal with a perceived crisis in public employee pensions. Here’s the specifics of the Ballot measure.
The proposed Pension Reform Act of 2014 would amend the California Constitution to give government agencies clear authority to negotiate changes to existing employees’ pension or retiree healthcare benefits. The changes would apply “going-forward,” allowing employees to keep the benefits they earned to date but letting employers reduce what they’d earn for the remainder of their careers.
- The proposal is submitted to the Attorney General, who will prepare a ballot summary and title to be circulated for signatures to qualify the initiative.
- Once the title and summary are prepared, backers have 150 days to circulate petitions and collect signatures.
- Backers need to get at least 807,615 valid voter signatures, representing 8 percent of the votes cast in last election for governor.
As a Republican, it’s not unexpected that Tait would join this effort. Republicans, especially those in Orange County, are unbelievably anti-public employee union oriented. But why Pulido would risk support he’s enjoyed from Labor throughout his political career is a mystery.
Unions are going to put up a fight. Tait and Pulido will likely kiss goodbye to any public employee union support and these unions will likely pressure other unions to join in support against this measure.