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San Jose Mayor Reed: What ARE You Thinking?
At a rally in front of City Hall today, community citizens and union members asked why the Mayor would want to attack unions in order to balance the city budget. The mayor's fiscal plan would allow the city to renege on its promise to pay specific benefits to city employees, but federal and state labor law cases consistently have held that these changes cannot be made unless it's through collective bargaining.
Mayor Chuck Reed says that only declaring a fiscal emergency can curb "runaway" pension costs.
However, employee unions counter that that the pension impact is way overblown.
The Mayor called for the city council to discuss ballot language on Friday, but under pressure from unions and community supporters that organized a rally with help from the South Bay Labor Council, Reed moved the date out to August 2nd, with an Oct. 31 deadline for union negotiations on pension and other benefit changes. Reed is hoping to get his plan onto the ballot no matter what the community, the unions, or even State Attorney General Kamala Harris says.
Harris was asked whether the city could use a fiscal emergency as leverage to revoke benefit promises to current workers. In a letter Harris said that the Attorney General's Office takes a dim view of plans like Reed's, and that if he went forward it would be "an extraordinary maneuver."
Whether he gets this ill-advised measure on the ballot or not, it is clear that the mayor wants to raise retirement ages and reduce benefit accruals for existing employees any way he can.
At today's rally, protesters carried signs including one that said: "Mayor Reed: What are you thinking?"
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees in Green
Cindy Chavez near the podium