Deadly pension initiative bypasses collective bargaining
Hard-earned retirement, medical benefits under attack

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A new ballot initiative filed last week to appear on the 2016 ballot, would bypass the collective bargaining table and effectively freeze retirement benefits for Local 1000-represented employees at the current contract level, requiring voter approval for any enhancement of those benefits.

Any alterations in cost of living adjustments, pension calculations, changes in vesting or lowering the age of retirement eligibility would all be subject to a statewide vote—even if they are successfully bargained in a contract.

“This is a dangerous attack on our rights and retirement security,” said Yvonne R. Walker, Local 1000 president. “We’re fighting against wealthy, right-wing bullies who want to make sweeping changes to California’s pension laws that would destroy the promise of a secure retirement.”

Challenges ahead for new employees

State workers hired after January 1, 2019, would not receive the same defined-benefit retirement plan as current employees unless the state approves extending it and voters statewide approve the change. Those workers would presumably receive a 401(k)-type benefit instead.

More troubling: the ballot initiative defines “new government employee” as one hired after the January 1, 2019 date, regardless of any prior employment status with that or any other government employer. A likely outcome would be that a change of departments for any employee, regardless of past service, could be interpreted as changing employers. That would narrow upward mobility opportunities and the ability to transfer from departments and geographic locations while retaining seniority and benefits.

The fight begins now

Signature gathering begins soon as a coalition of anti-union, anti-public employee groups, including the National Right to Work Committee, marshal their forces to pass this deadly attack in 2016. 

“It is more important than ever to become a member of Local 1000,” said President Walker. “We are all in this together to protect our jobs, our benefits and pensions by keeping Local1000 strong.”