SAN JOSE (KCBS) – A plan by San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, along with a handful of other mayors across the state, to get a pension reform initiative on the November 2014 state ballot is already being met with heavy opposition from union leaders statewide.
Reed, along with San Bernardino Mayor Pat Morris, Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido, Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait and Pacific Grove Mayor Bill Kampe, have submitted the ballot initiative to the State Attorney General.
The proposed Pension Reform Act of 2014 would amend the state constitution and allow local governments to negotiate changes in future pension benefits for current employees, as well as future ones.
In San Jose, city employee unions have been fighting Mayor Reed’s pension reform efforts for several years, and many said they are not surprised he is taking his efforts statewide.
“I feel sorry for the rest of the state,” said Jim Unland, president of the San Jose Police Officers Association. “There’s people that seem to wonder if he’s known all along that what he’s trying to do in San Jose, he can’t do and this is kind of a backup plan for him.”
Unland notes that Measure B in San Jose, the pension reform measure supported by the mayor and passed by voters, is still in the courts.
Mayor Reed said his initiative will give government leaders the flexibility to solve their pension problems and make sure public employees are paid the benefits they earned. “This would give clear authority to negotiate and if negotiations weren’t successful, it could also go to the voters,” he said.
But Terry Brennand with the Service Employees International Union disagrees with the mayor’s proposal.
“It just allows them to unilaterally cut benefits for current, future and existing retirees,” he said.
Brennand said labor leaders are already coordinating opposition to the pension reform measure, if it makes it on next year’s ballot.
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