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Public employees loud in criticism of pension overhaul by Democratic allies

August 28, 2012 |  4:53 pm

Although lawmakers rejected some of the governor’s harshest pension changes, public employee unions on Tuesday denounced the proposed plan and said they would consider going to voters or the courts to overturn some elements.

The proposal bypasses collective bargaining and represents the biggest rollback in public pensions in the history of California, according to Dave Low, chairman of Californians for Retirement Security, a coalition representing 1.5 million public employees and retirees.

“We are outraged that a Democratic Governor and Democratic Legislature are taking a wrecking ball to retirement security for teachers, firefighters, school employees, and police officers," Low said in a statement. "While we support common-sense changes to end spiking and abuse of the system, this package is unfair and wrong."

Appearing with a dozen public employees and labor leaders, Low objected to the proposal to put a $110,000 cap on the salary that pensions can be based on while raising the age for full retirement to 67 for new employees not involved in public safety jobs.

Requiring new and existing workers to increase the amount they contribute to their pensions so they and their employer each provide half is also a problem, according to Terry Brennand, senior government relations advocate for the Service Employees International Union of California. "It’s punitive. It attacks public employees for no reason," Brennand told reporters.

Maggie Ellis, a 20-year teacher at an  Elk Grove elementary school, charged the governor and legislators are pushing through the changes without an open process. Union leaders said Tuesday afternoon that they still did not have all the details of the plan."I am very disappointed in the lack of transparency on the last-minute pension deal,’’ Ellis said.

Brennand was also critical of the process. "This is not a bargaining process. This is a jam job," Brennand said.


California Teachers Assn. a powerful force in Sacramento

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Assembly speaker vows action on public pensions, 'regulatory reform'

-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento