PORAC Talking Points - Reed/DeMaio

PORAC Talking Points on
Reed/DeMaio Retirement Security Attacks

Former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and ex-San Diego Councilmember Carl DeMaio can best be labeled as 'stubbornly wrong.'

After failing twice to qualify ballot measures that unfairly and illegally undermine the negotiated retirements of law enforcement officers - as well all other public employees - they are submitting two more ballot measures that are equally punitive, and make devastating changes to employees' salaries, pensions and healthcare benefits. Their initiatives will be certified for circulation around December 1, 2015.

PORAC has been instrumental in turning back the ill-conceived Reed/DeMaio efforts in the past. However, the retirement security of law enforcement officers continues to be at risk. The problem is worsened if Reed and DeMaio qualify their initiative and garner the support of wealthy Wall Street benefactors willing to fund a costly and misleading campaign.

Protecting the negotiated benefits of our brave men and women in the face of mean-spirited and unworkable initiatives remains our top priority.

Reed and DeMaio are banking their own futures on successfully passing any initiative that steals the future security of public employees. While they are just plain wrong and bullheaded in their efforts, we need to be educating our members on the continuing threat.

Below are talking points to share with our PORAC membership; please note that some arguments are repeated because they apply to both measures.

Measure 1: Elimination of Defined Benefit Retirement

This initiative attacks the core promise made to law enforcement that after a career of dangerous service to our communities, you will have a retirement check you can rely on - a defined benefit.

This initiative eliminates the defined benefit and is both an extreme and punitive measure that will hurt law enforcement officers and their families.

·      It eliminates defined benefit retirement for ALL new public employees hired after January 1, 2019.

·      The measure is so poorly written that it implies a retirement benefit will be there for retired law enforcement officers, but does not require employers to provide new employees with any retirement at all - does anyone want to trust future politicians with providing adequate retiree benefits for law enforcement?

·      It penalizes employees who change jobs. If any PORAC member moves from one Department to another, they lose their pension.

·      For years, officers have forgone higher salaries in favor of the promise of a reasonable retirement.  The Reed/DeMaio elimination of defined benefit retirement plans also includes removing virtually any assurance of retirement whatsoever, and creates a hindrance to recruitment that would be incredibly difficult to overcome. And creates serious safety concerns in our communities.

·      New employees will lose their pensions and be forced to work side-by-side with other workers, while receiving less retirement, or no retirement at all.

This initiative takes away death and disability benefits for police, firefighters and other workers killed in the line of duty.

·      It cleverly and dishonestly states that the measure "shall not be interpreted to modify or limit" death and disability benefits, but it eliminates the basis on which these benefits are provided. Once defined benefit pensions are eliminated, it is impossible to provide current death and disability benefits to police, firefighters and others injured or killed on the job.

·      Officer death and disability benefits were put in place to protect the public. Peace officers and firefighters cannot do their job in an environment where they hesitate to act. The Legislature recognized the inherent dangers of law enforcement decades ago and enacted protections to ensure that first responders, and their families, would be cared for if they are killed in the line of duty. This initiative deletes most of those protections.

This initiative is poorly drafted and will have unintended negative consequences.

·      It closes pension plans to new employees and prohibits employers from paying the costs of closing these plans.

·      When no new employees can enter retirement plans, the cost of paying promised pensions will have to be paid by someone. Lawsuits will be filed and taxpayers will be on the hook.

·      This initiative jeopardizes the sustainability of our state's multi-billion dollar pension funds, thrusting public employees into financial uncertainty.

·      It allows voters to reinstate defined benefit plans, increase retirement benefits or increase employer payments to pensions to more than 50% of retirement costs. This will force costly elections across California and politicize the provision of retirement benefits.

·      These decisions should be negotiated at the bargaining table, not in costly and misleading campaigns.

This initiative is unnecessary.

·      The average public employee pension is only $2,784 a month and the average teacher pension is $3,639 a month.

·      Peace officers do not receive Social Security. Elimination of public safety pensions upends the financial future for officers who dedicate their careers protecting our communities.

·      Public employees currently contribute as much as half, and oftentimes more than half, of the cost of retirement from their paychecks.

·      Studies show that public employee retirees injected almost $20 billion into California's economy, generating over $30 billion in economic activity for businesses.

Measure 2: Capping Retirement and Cutting Pay

This initiative undercuts new police officers and new deputy sheriffs.

·      It caps retirement contributions, forcing new public employee pay cuts of between 7-39%.

·      The initiative limits employer contributions towards retirement for new employees to 11% for miscellaneous employees and 13% for safety employees. Included in this maximum are payments for deferred compensation, retiree health care, prefunding retiree health care, defined benefit retirement and defined contribution retirement.

·      A new California Highway Patrol (CHP) Officer's starting salary is $6,250 a month. This initiative will force a cut in every new CHP officer's salary of 39%. This is a cut of $2,437.50.

·      New state employees would have their salaries reduced by 21.8%. Every new law enforcement officer would experience a significant pay cut under this initiative.

This initiative punishes cops who change jobs and will hurt recruitment and retention.

·      If cops, investigators or teachers move to a new Department, they jeopardize their pension.

·      For years, officers have forgone higher salaries in favor of the promise of a reasonable retirement. The elimination of defined benefit retirement plans, and guaranteeing virtually any assurance of retirement whatsoever, creates a hindrance to recruitment that would be incredibly difficult to overcome.

·      New employees will lose their pensions and be forced to work side-by-side with other workers, while receiving less retirement, or no retirement at all.

This measure takes away current death and disability benefits for law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty, a dishonest and inept effort that is insulting to every PORAC member.

·      The initiative states that the measure "shall not be interpreted to modify or limit" death and disability benefits, but it eliminates the basis on which these benefits are provided. Once defined benefit pensions are eliminated, it is impossible to provide current death and disability benefits to police, firefighters and others injured or killed on the job.

·      Officer death and disability benefits were put in place to protect the public by letting courageous officers know that when they go into a dangerous situation, they have the peace of mind that their own families will be protected if they perish.

This initiative is unnecessary.

A direct and honest message from PORAC has resonated in the previous situations when Reed and DeMaio tried blaming PORAC members and other public employees for economic ills that were clearly not of their making - stop the blame game.

We have issues of real concern that need to be addressed and these initiatives that are designed to keep Reed and DeMaio relevant have been rejected in the past because they are spiteful, poorly-written, bad public policy, and dangerous for our communities. We have already participated in extraordinary retirement reforms that were initiated by the Governor, Legislature and cooperative public employees.. Let's resolve remaining issues at the bargaining table and move on.

For more information go to porac.org

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