It took a while, but the leading union coalition in the ongoing battle over Californias public pension policy has answered Mayor Chuck Reeds invitation to meet with a letter that could be summed up in three words: Take a hike.
In a letter released this afternoon, more than a dozen unions represented by Californians for Retirement Security, brushed aside the San Jose Democrats sit-down offer.
We question whether your communication is sincere or simply politically expedient, the letter says.
Reed last month took steps toward putting a statewide pension proposal on the November 2014 ballot. The measure would, among other things, change Californias constitution so that state and local government employers could legally lower employees pension terms prospectively. A week ago he offered to talk things over with the unions and with Democratic and Republican leaders in the Legislature.
Meaningful dialogue can only occur in an environment of trust and sincerity, the coalitions letter says. Your choice, to first introduce this draconian and flawed measure and then invite dialogue, shows a lack of both.
If passed by voters, Reeds ballot measure would invalidate a body of case law that suggests pensions once promised are a vested right that cant be diminished without equal alternative compensation.
That assumption is being tested in the courts right now by unions suing to overturn a Reed-sponsored ballot measure, approved by San Jose voters, that requires current workers to pay more for their pensions or switch to a less-generous plan for their remaining years of service. The benefits they accrue up to that point wouldnt be changed.
Call Jon Ortiz, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1043.