Vice President Joe Biden addressed a cheering crowd of unionized public employees at the LA Convention Center Tuesday, June 19. Biden called the nationwide belt-tightening that has put many union workers' pensions in jeopardy the "greatest .assault on working-class people and their unions that I’ve seen in my lifetime." Conan Nolan reports from Downtown Los Angeles for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on June 19, 2012.
Unionized public employees from around the nation are in Los Angeles this week, strategizing for the fall campaign at the annual International Convention of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
Vice President Joe Biden spoke to a cheering crowd at the LA Convention Center Tuesday, encouraging them to fight against what he called “the greatest assault on working-class people and their unions that I’ve seen in my lifetime.”
“We owe you. You provide safe neighborhoods. You provide the good schools. You provide the school lunch program. You provide the school daycare center. You provide,” Biden said.
The mood at the Convention Center was one of defiance after voters in San Jose and San Diego approved rollbacks to pensions and benefits to city workers there. Recently, governors in other states like Wisconsin and Ohio did the same.
“We earned our pension,” said one union worker.
“People have the wrong impression of what public employees do,” said another.
Long assumed to be union champions, Democratic governors and mayors are seeking reforms to public pensions and health care plans that are usually better than those in the private sector.
The L.A. City Finance Director said that in three years, the city will be spending nearly a quarter of its budget on pensions and health care for police officers and fire fighters, whose average retirement age is 51.
The convention ends on Friday.