Sacramento, CA – SEIU California issued the following statement from Matt Nathanson, a public health nurse in Santa Cruz County and SEIU Local 521 Executive Board member, in response to the package of pension rollbacks announced today by Governor Jerry Brown.
“SEIU has long advocated for reforms that ensure sustainable public pension plans. By eliminating the worst abuses in the current pension system, we can better protect the retirement of hard-working Californians who depend on a modest pension for their retirement years. But while we support common-sense changes to end spiking and abuses of the system, this package unfairly slashes pensions for middle-class, working families.
“Elements of this package address issues that should be negotiated at the bargaining table, not dictated through legislation. State employees have agreed over the past two years to pay more toward their pensions. Through negotiations, public employees have made other changes that have saved California $600 million. In more than 200 California cities, counties and local districts, public employees increased employee pension contributions and lowered public costs. Collective bargaining works.
“Anti-union forces are mobilized across the country to erode the retirement security of working families. In some states, even the right to collective bargaining has been under attack. The result has been fewer jobs, worse benefits and reduced pensions for hardworking Americans. We believe the debate should not be focused on the hardworking public employees who have pensions, but on the retirement security crisis affecting millions of Americans.
“Far too many Americans work hard, live by the rules, and still retire in poverty. We must bring retirement security to more workers through smart pension reform, new retirement models and a strengthened Social Security system.”