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Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

Chuck Reed, mayor of San Jose

Chuck Reed asks California lawmakers, ‘Call me’

Published: Friday, Nov. 1, 2013 - 1:49 pm
Last Modified: Friday, Nov. 1, 2013 - 2:29 pm

As reported earlier this week, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed recently sent a letter to more than a dozen public employee union leaders, asking for a sit-down to talk about his pension proposal for the November 2014 ballot.

We’ve since learned that the mayor also sent a similar letter to California legislative leaders.

Reed’s measure would give public employers in financial emergencies the clear authority to impose lower pension benefits on current employees. A body of case law suggests that government employers can’t downgrade a pension benefit once promised to an employee without replacing it with something of comparable value.

“The irony is that governments can lay off employees and freeze or cut salaries,” Reed wrote in his letter to lawmakers, “but it’s unclear if we can negotiate future changes to retirement benefits.”

A 2011 Little Hoover Commission report suggested there’s legal wiggle room to challenge the precedent. Reed’s measure would eliminate any ambiguity by changing the California constitution.

Reed’s letter, addressed Oct. 26, went to Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, both Democrats, and their minority party counterparts, Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff and Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway.

Like his letter to labor, Reed concluded his missive to lawmakers with a phone number and a request: “Please feel free to contact me ... if you are amenable to a meeting.”

Letter from Mayor Chuck Reed to the Legislature

Call Jon Ortiz, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1043.

Read more articles by Jon Ortiz

About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at


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Note: The State Worker blog switched blog platforms in October 2013. All posts after the switch are found here. Older posts are available using the list below.

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