US - Calfornia's largest state employees union, SEIU Local 1000, will launch a state-wide campaign today against Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's plans to phase out defined benefit pension plans for new employees.
Members of SEIU Local 1000, which represents some 89000 state employees, will gather in a range of locations across the state to “educate” Schwarzenegger on how modest public employees’ pensions are, the union said.
Launching the campaign, SEIU Local 1000 said Schwarzenegger’s plans would jeopardise secure retirements for everyone in public retirement systems, including current retirees and employees.
“The governor likes to say that we’re all going to retire rich, but no public workers I know will have a lavish retirement,” said union president Jim Hard. “We’re not going to retire and spend tens of thousands of dollars on Humvees and cigars – we’re just going to try to make ends meet.”
Hard said the average public employee pension is only about US$1600 a month, according to CalPERS.
Schwarzenegger has proposed closing DB plans to new public employees from July 2007 in exchange for 401(k) style accounts.
The union argues the move would make it harder to recruit and retain “a quality public workforce”, especially for those positions where public employees’ pay is below that offered in the private sector.
Today members will gather to write to the Governor telling him what they plan to do with their “modest retirement ‘nest eggs’”.
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