District Council 57

Retirement Security Restored for San Jose Workers After So-Called Pension Reform Initiative Finally Gets Repealed

The controversy over who gets to decide the retirement security of San Jose public employees has finally been put to rest. The San Jose City Council agreed today to adopt the judge’s ruling to repeal Measure B—the divisive 2012 pension reform initiative put forward by former Mayor Chuck Reed.

The decision will finally allow the city to create a more sustainable pension system and put an end to the lingering pension battles that have hampered San Jose’s ability to recruit and retain employees that provide critical services to the city.

“This is an important step that will help our city move forward together so that we can rebuild our relationships with the workforce, the community and the City Council,” said Yolanda Cruz, president of AFSCME Municipal Employees Federation (Local 101).

Repealing Measure B has been one of our union’s biggest challenges in Santa Clara County. In April, a Santa Clara County Superior Court judge rejected efforts by a former councilman to block the city from invalidating the controversial measure. Another judge put a temporary stay on the ruling, but the stay was eventually lifted. Today the City Council officially voted that Measure B was improperly placed before the voters.

Cruz said the Measure B settlement that the city is now negotiating in good faith with its unions is much better because benefits for workers—which have been continually under attack since Reed was in office—will be improved and taxpayers will still save money.

The settlement also shows the community the reality of what it means to be a public service worker in San Jose. Contrary to popular belief, the majority of city employees are not highly compensated: they are clerks, librarians, wastewater treatment scientists, regional park aides and even zookeepers. Despite being the city’s largest union, many of AFSCME workers in San Jose don’t even get benefits because they are part-time.

Today’s decision proves what our brothers and sisters have been saying all along: that pension reform shouldn’t be decided at the ballot box but rather at the negotiating table, where management and workers bargain over the terms and conditions of the workers’ employment.
 

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