San Jose's Pension Reform Battle Goes Statewide | NBC Bay Area

San Jose's Pension Reform Battle Goes Statewide



    (Published Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013)

    The lines have been drawn for what promises to be a bruising statewide battle on pension reform.

    Coalitions began forming today to fight San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed's efforts for a statewide constitutional amendment to implement pension reform throughout California.

    Four other California mayors have also signed on.

    Reed says it's necessary to change the California Constitution. "It's something that desperately needs to be done because skyrocketing retirement costs are squeezing cities and cutting services," Reed said.

    The San Jose fire department and other unions disagree. They are joining forces, to warn the rest of the state about Reed's efforts for a ballot initiative to implement San Jose-like pensions reforms statewide.

    SJPOA president Jim Unland said he's been in touch with statewide leaders, including the CHP and says the pension issue is something that shouldn't be repeated.

    The police union boss is referring to what's happening in San Jose - higher crime rates along with lower pay and morale for cops and firefighters.

    Max Zarzana with the Government Lawyers Association says he hears it from the officers he works with on cases as a prosecutor. "This is the type of thing where the government breaks its promise to its employees. This is the type of thing that anyone would fight against," Zarzana said.

    Reed admits he is facing an uphill battle politically, but says "the voters understand the need to get over these skyrocketing costs."

    It would take 800,000 signatures on a petition to put the initiative on next year's ballot.

    Labor leaders plan to tell every California voter to look at what pension reform has done to San Jose.

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