California Professional Firefighters

Governor Signs Legislation Rolling Back Future Pensions

Legislation imposing sweeping rollbacks on pensions for future firefighters and other public workers has been signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

AB 340 imposes a range of rollbacks, and implements them in statute, circumventing the collective bargaining process. The measure was approved in the waning days of this year's legislative session.

Key provisions include:

  • New lower tier for almost all employees – local, state, teachers, the works. Public safety retirement would top out at 2.7% at 57;
  • A cap on pensionable income -- $110,000 for those who pay Social Security; $130,000 for those who don’t.
  • Mandatory cost sharing immediately, for all new employees, and by 2018, for current employees;
  • Three-year final compensation averaging;
  • Limits on pensionable compensation, airtime purchases, pension holidays and retroactivity.

CPF President Lou Paulson had the following statement on the passage of the measure:

We're disappointed in the governor's action on AB 340, which we believe violates the principles of collective bargaining and severely diminishes the retirement security for future generations of working families, especially those who work in public safety.

Everyday workers who have already seen their pay go down, their work hours cut by furlough and their jobs disappear to layoffs and downsizing will now see their pensions rolled back in response to short-term politics.

Up and down the state, local unions have accepted deep concessions on pensions, as well as pay and other benefits. By signing this measure, the governor pre-empts a process that has been working to generate many of the changes the governor has now imposed.

Firefighters depend on the promise of a reasonable, secure retirement in return for their commitment to a difficult and dangerous profession. AB 340 makes that future promise less secure for the next generation and threatens basic retirement security for generations of front line first responders and their families. 

President Paulson's response was echoed by Dave Low, of the CPF co-founded Californians for Retirement Security.

The Governor's signature on this legislation represents a giant step backward for retirement security for California's aging workforce.

While we support elements of the package that end pension spiking and other abuses of the system, the new law slashes benefits to pre-Reagan levels with an end-run around collective bargaining.

The increase in retirement age will likely result in an increase in workers comp and disability benefits, and will make it increasingly difficult to attract a quality public workers to serve Californians.

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