Friday, February 21, 2014

Calif. pension battle brewing. Sounds eerily familiar.

UC service workers, members of AFSCME Local 3299,  picket at UC Irvine Medical Center. The union has scheduled a five-day walkout starting March 3. (Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times). 
IN L.A. THIS WEEK… The weather's different, but the education issues sound pretty much the same here in Cali as they do in the IL tundra. The proposed so-called "pension reform" sounds eerily familiar. Like IL, the state has failed to meet it's payment obligations. Schools, for their part, are wary of paying more for pensions after suffering budget cuts during the recession.

It's a revenue crisis, not a pension crisis but "reform" always seems to mean placing the burden squarely on the backs of the retirees and sparing the wealthiest and the corporations any new tax increases.

The L.A. Times reports:
Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders are pledging to repair and replenish the $181.1-billion retirement system that is supposed to finance more than 800,000 retirements for public school teachers, administrators and community college instructors. The second-largest public pension fund in the country, after California's primary pension system for public employees, it faces a $71-billion shortfall that worsens by $22 million every day, according to pension officials.
But the question is "repair and replenish" how?
Teachers do not receive Social Security, and the average retiree last year left his or her job at age 62 with a monthly pension of $3,980 after working 25 years. In the fiscal year that ended in June, payments into the pension fund were far short of what's needed to keep the system healthy, according to state reports.
The Legislature and governor must approve any increases in contribution rates, but negotiations will be fraught with political peril, especially in an election year.
Cali, like IL is heading for a showdown as corporate reformers try and break the public employee unions.

After following the 2-day faculty strike on the part of my former colleagues at UIC, I see that out here on the Left Coast, it's the UC's 21,000 AFSCME service workers and patient care employees who are carrying the ball. They are planning a five-day strike starting March 3 -- which would be their third and longest walkout in less than a year.

BACK HOME, IT'S JAY TRAVIS…asking who is Christian Mitchell?  Early voting begins on Monday, March 3, just over a week away, and we still don’t know the truth about Christian Mitchell.
Mitchell says that he’s a progressive who cares about working families. But he shares the same donor base as billionaire Republican Bruce Rauner… Christian has also received over $50,000 from Stand for Children, a special interest group funded in Illinois primarily by Lester Crown's family (as well as John Arnold, the Texas-based former Enron executive and notorious anti-pension activist).  
NEXT THURSDAY… February 27th, Women for Fioretti are hosting a breakfast at The Cliff Dwellers Club, featuring Guest Speaker Chicago Teachers' Union President Karen Lewis.

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