California Professional Firefighters

Sacramento Rally Targets Special Interest Pension Grab

More than 100 firefighters, teachers, police officers, school employees and other public servants took a stand in Sacramento against a ballot measure that threatens the retirement of millions of hard-working Californians.

The Rally for Retirement Security took place outside a meeting hosted for proponents of the effort by the right-wing Reason Foundation featuring former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and former San Diego city council member Carl DeMaio. The duo are planning a November, 2016 initiative that could eliminate the secure retirement of current as well as future workers. Reed and DeMaio spearheaded local anti-pension ballot measures that have faced legal troubles. Reason Foundation has been a vocal advocate of privatizing all retirement (and pretty much everything else). 

More than 50 firefighters -- some from as far away as Salinas -- came to Sacramento to stand up for a secure retirement and stand against Reed's divisive efforts.

"I have seen firsthand what Chuck Reed's 'vision' of pension reform looks like, and it's not pretty," said Patrick Chung, a San Jose fire captain and member of San Jose Firefighters Local 230. "His agenda is really to demonize public workers and create an insecure retirement for everyone."


The new pension initiative is expected to be financed by Texas billionaire John Arnold, a former Enron executive who has bankrolled previous efforts in California to slash promised retirement benefits to California public employees, including more than $200,000 in 2014. An Arnold-funded measure to undermine retirement security was thrown off the ballot last year in Ventura County by a judge, who ruled it was illegal.

This new effort is likely to eliminate retirement security for millions of more Californians, worsen economic inequality in our state, and undermine the ability to attract and retain quality firefighters, teachers, police and other public servants,” said Dave Low, Chairman of Californians for Retirement Security. “We are confident we can defeat it.”

According to a report by Reuters, the new Reed/DeMaio measure “will take aim at CalPERS.” It is unclear whether the proposed ballot measure will be drafted as a statute, which requires 365,880 valid signatures, or a constitutional amendment, which requires 585,407 valid signatures.

The Reason Foundation, a libertarian “think-tank” funded by a foundation headed by conservative billionaire brothers of the oil company Koch Industries, coordinated the meeting The group is known for its anti-government perspectives and its support of the tobacco industry, according to the Center for Media and Democracy.

Californians for Retirement Security is a coalition of more than 1.2 million public employees and retirees. It includes the California Teachers Association, SEIU, California School Employees, California Professional Firefighters, the Peace Officers Research Association of California, and more than one dozen other public employee organizations.