Pension Truth Squad Makes Stop in Riverside

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Retirees and public employees dispel myths about retirement security

RIVERSIDE – Teachers, firefighter and other members of Californians for Retirement Security’s Pension Truth Squad visited Riverside Tuesday to share personal stories and set the record straight about the ongoing attacks on public workers in Riverside and across California.

 “Out-of-state billionaires whose greed led to California and Riverside’s budget problems are selectively drawing attention to headlines about the few sensational cases of pension abuse. They continue to spread myths and falsehoods about public employee pensions,” said Alen (cq) Ritchie, a retired public school teacher for the Redlands School District.

Ritchie joins firefighters, peace officers, scientists, engineers, school employees and other public employees and retirees in supplying fact-based information about California’s public pension system as part of Californians for Retirement Security’s statewide Pension Truth Squad tour.

California public employees’ contributions to their pensions have climbed from 5 percent to 7 to 10 percent, and the average public pension in California is $26,000. Many, including teachers, retirees do not receive Social Security benefits. The average public teacher’s retirement in California is $33,000 a year after an average 27 years of service.

“My pension will enable me to live independently, afford healthcare and continue to contribute to society,” said Jesse Hernandez, a senior cook for the University of California, Riverside, who said he can expect $1,600 a month in pension when he retires after 37 years of service. “What we are asking for is a secure, affordable retirement for all workers, retirement with dignity.”

Nancy McCall, a retired delivery driver for the Riverside County Office of Education, said she counted on her pension as a single mother of two. “I went to work every day, showed up every day and took care of my job. This was part of my wage package. This was the promise to me. This was security for me,” said McCall, who said she collects less than $1,800 a month for 25 years of service. “I’m not living high on the hog and if I didn’t have my retirement, I’d hate to think of where I would be.”

Riverside firefighter Tyler Stanford said firefighters risk their health and lives and have contributed to their pensions. “We shouldn’t be penalized now because the economy is falling apart because of Wall Street and the housing market,” Stanford said.

Californians for Retirement Security is a coalition of more than 1.5 million public employees and retirees. The group’s executive committee includes: California Federation of Teachers; California Professional Firefighters; California School Employees Association; California Teachers Association; Orange County Employees Association; Peace Officers Research Association of California; Retired Public Employees Association of California; SEIU California, and SEIU Local 1000. 

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