Attention Shoppers: Don't Sign that Misleading Pension Petition!


By Association of Deputy District Attorneys


The next time you stroll up to the local supermarket to pick up a gallon of milk, don't be surprised if you're accosted by a hired gun who's trying to chip away at your pay and your pension.


The anti-pension brigade - bankrolled by a Texas billionaire and led by a radio talk show host, and Mayor who left his City with a crippled police department and soaring crime rate - announced a ballot initiative they cleverly titled the "Voter Empowerment Act." The act is, in fact, a blatant bid to disempower all public employees of state and local governments in California.


The act is not, contrary to reports, a "pension initiative."  It seeks to undermine collective bargaining for all public employees by giving voters control not just of pensions but of salary.  While the measure has not been finalized by the California Attorney General for circulation, in its current form, it would appear to restrict employer contributions to any deferred compensation program, including a 401k plan or matching contribution. It would also increase employee contributions above and beyond the "normal cost" that employees pay every year into the retirement system.


The Disempowerment Act's proponents need to collect thousands of signatures to get their misleading measure on the state ballot. There is no public clamor for this initiative, no army of volunteers to collect signature.  Instead, in the near future, you can expect well-paid, hired signature gatherers to thrust a clipboard and pen into your face whenever you walk up to the supermarket.

Based on the past rhetoric of the initiative's authors, you can expect that prosecutors, police officers, firefighters and all other hard-working civil servants will be demonized.  They will accuse you of "riding the gravy train", and we know from past experience they will outright lie about the costs of public employee pensions and salaries.  They will falsely claim that your pay and benefits need to be slashed because they are "crowding out" funding of every vital public service.


Of course, they are deathly afraid of facts; such as the fact that Governor Brown and the state Legislature enacted a package with bipartisan backing that will save $55 billion in PERS costs and billions of dollars more for state and local jurisdictions. In fact, pensions for new employees have been capped and public employees are paying 50 percent of normal costs.  At the state level, CALPERS and CALSTRS studies have shown that every $1 in pension payments generates $10.85 in economic activity.


You can be certain that public safety groups and other labor organizations and associations will be opposing this measure. Meanwhile, if your friends or neighbors inquire about this measure after reading the news or being accosted at the supermarket, you can confidently tell them that it threatens to drastically undermine the quality and effectiveness of public services across the state by destroying the ability of public employers to recruit and retain the most qualified, experienced and dedicated employees.  


Please tell your friends and neighbors that if they value the job that Deputy District Attorneys, police officers, firefighters and teachers do, please don't sign this petition. 


Please read our previous blogs  Your Pension is Under Attack and  Fuzzy Math Continues To Drive Public Pension Hysteria.  If you want to learn more about pensions and get the facts, please visit Let's Talk Pensions.


The Association of Deputy District Attorneys (ADDA) is the collective bargaining agent and represents nearly 1,000 Deputy District Attorneys who work for the County of Los Angeles.