California Squeezing

Turns out the unions suffered another defeat Tuesday night:

The most significant election on Tuesday wasn’t in Wisconsin.

It was in San Jose and San Diego, where nearly 70% of citizens voted for public-sector union pension reforms, introduced by Democrats, that could save their cash-strapped cities billions of dollars.

California voters rallying behind pension reforms introduced by mayors shows the sea change in the politics of public-sector unions. Connect the dots between Scott Walker’s decisive defeat of the recall effort spurred by his rollback of collective bargaining and the push by Democrats and Republicans to restore a semblance of fiscal responsibility and you’ll see this once controversial idea is beginning to garner bipartisan support.

The union is suing, incidentally.

This is part of a nationwide shift toward reigning in public pensions. Let’s be clear: the public doesn’t want public employees to go without pensions or to be deprived. What they realize is that We. Are. Out. Of. Money. And we simply can not afford the hundreds of billions in future liabilities these pension plans are racking up. We can not afford to have people retire after 30 or even as little as 20 years and then be paid their maximum salary plus wage growth forever.

Note also: it was Democrats who introduced these changes, just as Democrats have introduced such changes in Massachusetts and Democrat Tom Barrett, in the Wisconsin recall, dropped the union benefits issue from his platform. The Democrats know that this must be done. And they’re fine with it being done … as long as they do it. But when Republicans do the same thing, it’s too big of an opportunity to scream blue murder for them to admit that it’s the right thing.

(As a contrast, the new French government wants to lower the retirement age. French socialists: making Democrats look smart.)

We are finally seeing the defusing of the fiscal time bomb that has been hanging over us for a decade.. If we ever get some movement on Social Security and Medicare, there may actually be hope for this country.

Update: Miguelito points out that the San Diego provision was strongly opposed by Democrats. And it bears remembering that Jerry Brown opposes reform and Michigan is currently in a big union fight. Most of the Democrats are still in the union pocket. But there are cracks in the facade. That Tom Barrett dropped the union benefits issue was it was a ten-pound maggot tells you they can read the writing on the wall.

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  1. Miguelito

    citizens voted for public-sector union pension reforms, introduced by Democrats,

    I don’t know where they got this idea from, but it’s patently false where San Diego is concerned. Both Props A & B were put in place by Republicans (or non-partisans). Prop A essentially blocks requiring PLAs on city contracts and Prop B is the pension reform. I know B was written by Carl Demaio (who’s the front runner for mayor) and who, while technically isn’t listed for a party (for some reason, non of the mayor candidates ever are, but everyone knows who’s with what party and he was endorsed by the Republican party) he’s a more conservative person and allied with the Republicans.

    Both A&B were fought intensely by all the Dems on the council and really state wide.

    Maybe, technically, they were first put on the agenda by Dem members or something for one reason or another, but Democrats as a whole were dead set against either of these passing.

    The wide margin they won by is ever so sweet though. Plus it looks like there’s a good chance that the city council will sway to the right a tad as well.

    Edit: Yep DeMaio wrote prop B which I knew I’d read somewhere.

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  2. Miguelito

    DeMaio came and talked to our planning group about a year ago while I was on the board about the pension stuff. There was a lot of interesting data and he showed a lot of the loopholes they use to pad their pensions… like bonuses were counted and people would just happen to get on some kind of extra panel or something to get a nice extra bump their last year or two, and the highest take home pay was what was used for the pension computation. He was proposing to work to get the pension based purely on the base salary, which alone made a huge long term liability change.

    The one fact that really stuck in my head though was this: SD Firefighters get a yearly bonus if they’re a certified EMT. At first glance you might think that’s fine. Well, the rub is that being a certified EMT is a requirement to be a firefighter in the first place. Much like how state colleges get around rules limiting tuition levels by imposing “fees” instead.

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  3. Mississippi Yankee



    My face palm wasn’t that he believes it… it’s because he more or less said it out loud.

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  4. Hal_10000 *

    Thanks for the correction, Miguelito. I’ll update the post when I’m not doing this from a phone

    However, it is true that Mass Dems have proposed reforms. And the most striking thing about gr Wisconsin recall was how Barret ran away from the union issue.

    However, the Dem apparatus us still a big obstacle. Jerry brown wants to cave in. Michigan is in a huge union fight. At some point, however, the Democrats ate going to have to get the message of they will burn on the altar of unionization.

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