Unions Launch Pension Fight

Governor Brown's plan to reform the state pension system faces opposition

Governor Jerry Brown, long seen as a friend of labor, is facing union opposition to his plans for State Pension reform.

Also, majority Democrats in the California Legislature are unenthusiastic about the plan, and less than impressed with Brown's take on pension reform.

"I want to make sure those who have worked hard, have served our state, get a fair shake in making sure we hold to our obligation that they do have a decent retirement," said Assemblyman Mike Davis, D-Los Angeles.

"I think we want to make sure that we’re insuring retirement security,” said Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento.

"I’m not sure we’ll come to a conclusion this year,” concluded Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, D-Davis.

The Governor's 12-point proposal would, among other things, raise the retirement age for non-public safety employees to 67; require them to pay half into a defined benefit plan; and include a 401(K) proposal, similar to private sector pensions.

The governor is not alone in his advocacy for pension reform.

"What we've seen the last few years is that we've had cuts in state and local governments at virtually every level," said Aaron McClear of the group California Pension Reform. "Everything is getting cut except pensions."

But organized labor is opposed. And union allies will fight the plan.

"I think we really have to find a balance and what really works for all public employees across the board and not react to public misinformation about the degree to which there really is a problem," said Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles.

"There's this perception that all public employees are highly compensate, and that's not the case."

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