California Professional Firefighters

Anti-Firefighter Activists Go After Secure Pensions in Latest Initiative

The other shoe has dropped in the latest effort to roll back the retirement security of firefighters and it’s a profoundly devastating one for the next generation.

A new ballot initiative introduced today (June 4) would impose a Wall St.-style privatized retirement on new firefighters, police officers and other public workers, beginning in 2019. The measure would also require voter approval for any change in state or local pensions.

Beginning in 2019, new firefighters won’t get a pension – all they’ll get is a Wall St. ‘maybe,’” said Lou Paulson, president of California Professional Firefighters. “Essentially, this means the end of pensions for incoming state employees and the slow death of retirement security for all public workers.

READ: "Former CA Officials Move to Put Pensions on Ballot" -- Bloomberg News

The initiative’s sponsors include failed former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and hard-right San Diego politician-turned-talk show host Carl DeMaio. The two ideologues pushed through local anti-pension initiatives that have failed legal tests.

The proposal is the latest in a long line of doomed-to-fail efforts to eliminate the retirement security of firefighters, teachers, bus drivers and pretty much everyone who has worked hard to earn some modest retirement security,” said Paulson.

Financial backing for the statewide campaign is expected to come from anti-union sugar daddies such as Texas Enron billionaire John Arnold and, possibly, the Koch Brothers. Their efforts will be aided by a record-low signature threshold: Only about half a million signatures will be needed to put it on the ballot.

Paulson added that the measure’s “vote first” provisions will swamp local and state ballots with minute pension changes, turning local elections into expensive free-for-alls bankrolled largely by the likes of Arnold and the Kochs.

“It’s full employment for lawyers, political consultants and talk-show hosts like DeMaio,” said Paulson.

The initiative language introduced this week must be submitted to Attorney General Kamala Harris for its official title and summary, after which it will be on the streets for signatures, most likely beginning this fall.

As one of the co-sponsors of the statewide pension coalition, Californians for Retirement Security, CPF will aggressively press the case for secure retirement, and will be reaching out to firefighters and their families to help press the case for retirement security.

READ: "Pensions aren’t being paid at expense of filling potholes" - Sacramento Bee

Our adversaries have learned from their past mistakes, and they will have financial help they haven’t had in the past,” said Paulson. “We’re going to need everyone on the barricades if we’re going to defeat this cynical attack on hard-working men and women in our state.”