California Professional Firefighters' Special Report Shatters Public Pension Myths

For Immediate Release: Friday, June 17, 2011

Special Report Shatters Public Pension Myths, Shines Daylight on Extremist Pension Busters’ Questionable Tactics

SACRAMENTO -- A poignant, freshly released special report by the California Professional Firefighters features front-line firefighters, educators, social workers and others busting myths about California public employee pensions and calling out those who are scapegoating them to further their extreme agendas.

In the five-minute documentary, produced in conjunction with Californians for Retirement Security, real people discuss why they chose to enter public service and dispel misinformation that anti-pension factions continue to spread in their campaign to gut public sector retirement security.


“The sad thing is, it’s not just that they’re attacking me, they’re attacking everyone I work with,” Andy Doyle, a Los Angeles County firefighter, says in the report. “They’re attacking the teachers that taught my children in school, they’re attacking the janitors that clean the buildings, they’re attacking public employees.” The “CPF Firevision” report, which can be seen here, chronicles the ongoing efforts of Californians for Retirement Security to shine daylight on myths that have misled Californians about public employee pensions.

For example:
·         The notion that all public workers collect fat pensions is untrue. The average public pension in California is $26,000-a-year. Three-quarters of CalPERS retirees collect $36,000 or less. California retired teachers, who do not collect Social Security, earn an average $3,300-a-month after 27 years in the classroom.  The headline-grabbing pensions topping $100,000, sensationalized by pension busters, amount to less than 2 percent of California’s public pensions.·         Politically motivated proposals to gut public pensions will not fix local and state budgets, and instead likely will cost taxpayers more. Public pensions equal just three percent of California’s budget and overhauling its public pension system will not make a dent in current shortfalls, nor will it spare other programs such as schools and parks.  Independent analyses of some recent pension-busting plans find they likely will create more demand on government-provided social services and carry other unknown costs.

·         Public employees have been willing participants in helping fix California’s budget woes, supporting fair efforts to stem fraud and abuse. Their own contributions to their pensions have climbed from 5 percent to up to 11 percent. Formulas for calculating pensions have been reduced and new rules are being established to eliminate abuses - all reducing state pension costs by $570 million over the past two years. Nearly 180 California cities, counties and local districts, firefighters, police, teachers and other public employees have agreed to increase employee pension contributions and lower public costs.

Those featured in the CPF video and other members of Californians for Retirement Security are available to present first-person stories, background, context and facts regarding the escalating assault on public pensions in California and nationwide. Californians for Retirement Security represents 1.5 million public employees and retirees and reflects a wide range of voices, from university cafeteria workers and classroom aides, to public health scientists, engineers and front-line public safety officials.

The coalition also has launched two websites - and - as well as the statewide “Pension Truth Squad Tour” to supply Californians with the facts they deserve. For up-to-the-minute news, visit and follow CRS on at
View the full video and other CPF reports at