SJ Mayor Teams Up With Enron Billionaire to Gut Californians’ Retirement
by Steve Smith,
California Labor Federation
It’s official. San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, a career politician with backing from a Texas billionaire and former Enron trader, has filed a ballot measure to strip away retirement security from current teachers, firefighters, sanitation workers and other public servants.
According to the Sacramento Bee, “The Pension Reform Act of 2014 would alter California’s constitution to allow state and local government employers to cut pensions for current workers.”
Essentially, this means politicians would have the power to unilaterally slash the retirement of current workers, breaking a promise made to those workers when they were hired. Many of those public workers affected don’t receive Social Security. They have a modest pension that averages around $26,000 per year. They’re not responsible for the financial mess created by the Wall St. collapse, yet politicians like Reed are all too quick to scapegoat them—and out-of-state billionaires like former Enron executive John Arnold are all too happy to exploit them for profit.
This initiative isn’t about giving cities “flexibility,” as Reed and his cronies contend. It’s about blaming the teachers who inspire and motivate our children for a mess that politicians and Wall Street hedge fund managers created. Reed’s flawed initiative won’t bring fiscal stability to troubled cities, but it would drive a lot of talented, dedicated people away from serving our communities. And it unfairly breaks a promise to current workers who often have no other source of retirement.
Reed’s ploy, though, is likely to wither when held up to the light of public scrutiny. Californians don’t like out-of-state special interests like Arnold setting policy for us, nor do we appreciate career politicians with their own agendas pushing flawed proposals.
Californians for Retirement Security Chair Dave Low noted that, “Californians have constantly shown their distaste for measures put on the ballot by Texas interests and secret out-of-state contributors, and we expect this flawed proposal to be no different.”
This attack on workers must be beaten back. We simply can’t allow opportunists like Reed and billionaires like Arnold to gut the retirement of California workers. Check the Labor’s Edge blog at www.calaborfed.org for more developments and ways to get involved.