For Immediate Release: Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Retirees and workers dispel myths about public employee retirement
MODESTO – Retired state workers, police officers and other members of Californians for Retirement Security’s Pension Truth Squad shared personal stories in Modesto today to set the record straight about proposals to gut public pensions in California and across the nation.
“We are not the wealthy people making headlines. We are taxpayers, parents, grandparents and members of this community working to retire with dignity,” said Charlie Young, a retired Modesto public school teacher “We spent our careers serving the public and now we spend our pension checks, modest as they are, in our local neighborhoods.”
Modesto is one of several California communities where public servants are being targeted. These ballot box measures to steal the power to negotiate their retirement benefits amount to a misguided government power grab and a broken promise to public servants. The average CalPERS pension in Stanislaus County is $24,000 a year. CalPERS retirement payments directly pump $145 million back into Stanislaus County’s economy and generate at least $274 million in economic activity for the region. Retirees in the Central Valley spend the money they earned, after years of service, at local restaurants, doctors' offices, small businesses and more, according to CalPERS.
Statewide, three-quarters of CalPERS retirees collect yearly pensions of $36,000 or less. California retired teachers, who do not collect Social Security, earn an average $3,300-a-month after an average 27 years in the classroom. Meanwhile, public employee pensions amount to just 3 percent of California’s budget and public employees have agreed to pay more into their pensions and other changes that have saved the state $600 million over two years. Overhauling the public pension system will not help the state’s current budget shortfall and, according to analyses, likely would strap taxpayers with the bills for costly legal challenges and added demand on government social services.
“A few vocal factions are spreading falsehoods and sensationalizing extreme cases to scapegoat us,” said Modesto Firefighter Tim Tietjen. “The reality is that most of us earn modest wages and pensions, contribute to our retirements throughout our careers and have forgone pay raises and willingly made other concessions over the years in order to protect our pensions.”
Firefighters, police, scientists, engineers, school employees and other public employees and retirees have supplied fact-based information about California’s public pension system as part of the statewide Truth Squad tour. Truth Squad sponsor Californians for Retirement Security represents 1.5 million public employees and retirees. Its executive committee includes: California School Employees Association, California Faculty Association, California Teachers Association, California Association of Highway Patrolmen, California Professional Firefighters, Peace Officers Research Association of California, Orange County Employees Association, Service Employees International Union Local 1000, Professional Engineers in California Government, California Association of Professional Scientists, California Federation of Teachers Ballot Committee, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, San Bernardino Public Employees Association and the San Luis Obispo County Employees Association.
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