Reed’s Pension Initiative Undermines Concept of Vesting

On November 12, 2013 San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and four other California mayors filed initial paperwork for a dangerous initiative called the “The Pension Reform Act of 2014.” If the initiative qualifies for the ballot and if it is passed by California voters, it would amend the state constitution to do away with the “vested rights doctrine” that currently protects the pensions of millions of public sector workers, including UAPD members.  If passed, the new initiative would give public employers the ability to change the pension formulas for current employees, not just future hires.   Though they would still owe current employees a retirement benefit based on what they’ve earned to date, moving forward public employers would be able to “modify, freeze, or terminate” those benefits.   In other words, the initiative is the most serious attack on pensions to date.  Reed and his supporters are trying to collect 800,000 signatures by June to place the initiative on the November 2014 ballot.

UAPD is part of a coalition that is gearing up to fight Reed’s pension-killing initiative.  We are already raising funds and preparing a strategy to get the word out to California voters.  But it’s not too early to start talking to your friends and family about why they should oppose this initiative, first by refusing to sign the petition, and, if it comes to the ballot, by voting no on the measure.

Reasons to Oppose Chuck Reed’s Pension Reform Initiative:

  1. Doctors, firefighters, police officers, teachers and thousands of other public workers could see most of their retirement benefits disappear.  Reliable retirement benefits are essential to recruiting good people for these important jobs, which often pay less than what private sector jobs do.
  2. Although Reed is a Democrat who claims the initiative is bipartisan, this campaign is funded largely by wealthy conservatives, including Texas billionaire and former Enron trader John Arnold.
  3. As the economy is recovering, pension plans are recovering too, making this radical change in the California Constitution unnecessary.  To give one example, CalPERS just received a $261 million dollar payment from JPMorgan as part of the settlement of a federal investigation of the bank for practices that contributed to the 2008 financial crisis.
  4. Read more reasons to oppose the initiative at