California – San Jose City Workers Fight Pension Lies
At a San Jose City Council hearing in March, workers and community supporters waved “False” signs at Mayor Chuck Reed and other city politicians who lied to the public about pension costs. (Photo by Carmen Berkley)
Calling a ballot measure targeting pensions “needlessly divisive and legally risky,” San Jose city workers of Local 101 are bracing for battle over their retirement security.
Their concern is with a ballot measure pushed by Mayor Chuck Reed and supporters on the City Council to force current city workers — who are already dealing with over 20 percent cuts to pay and benefits — to pay even more out of their paychecks.
“The city will end up spending more money defending its own questionable actions because this measure is a breach of contract and it will be challenged in court,” says LaVerne Washington, a legal analyst and president of Confidential Employees Organization (CEO), a chapter of Local 101. “We had offered a retirement solution in negotiations, but the city simply refuses to bargain with us fairly.
“It will have a harmful effect on the incomes of thousands of tax payers. This could have been avoided if city leaders had worked with us in good faith to find a solution.”
This political attack on retirement security came a few weeks after an NBC Bay Area report uncovered that Reed had been using a made-up figure inflated by more than $250 million to scare the public about pension costs.
“We’re dealing with human beings and their lives, not just raw numbers,” said Councilmember Kansen Chu, one of three members who sided with working families. But a majority of the San Jose City Council voted to put legally dubious changes to
pensions on the ballot.