Sacramento labor attorney Lance Olson weighs in on the latest pension reform measure proposed by Reed and DeMaio called the “Voter Empowerment Act of 2016”. Further analysis of the language of the measure reveals confusing, detrimental and contradictory verbiage. “I’ve looked at a lot of initiatives, and this one is pretty far out there.” Olson tells Capital & Main. The measure cleverly hides language that attempts to uproot 60 years of statutory law by bypassing the collective bargaining process altogether.
Furthermore, Amy Brown, publisher and editor of the statewide monthly Public Retirement Journal, chimes in and explains “The proposal attempts to eliminate all vested benefits rights for future and current employees.” If the collective bargaining process is bypassed and pension-changing measures are put on the ballot, voters could potentially (and inadvertently) vote for decreased pension contributions, and without bargaining, nothing could stop it from happening.
The 60-year-old “California Rule” established that the retirement plan in effect at the time of a public employee’s hire can’t be changed unilaterally. It is part of the California Constitution’s Contract Clause as a primary vested right, and also makes future pension benefits earned at the job a collateral right. The Voter Empowerment Act clearly violates these fundamental laws.
Reed’s initiative's fate now resides in the hands of Kamala Harris who must give it an official ballot title and summary. Naming the measure will impact Reed/DeMaio’s ability to raise the $3.5 million and 560,000 signatures needed to be on the ballot.
ACSS strongly stands against this measure and will continue to monitor it and provide you with updates.
To read the entire Huffington Post article on this topic, click here.