For Immediate Release
California Professional Firefighters
California Professional Firefighters President Lou Paulson's Statement on the proposed pension legislation:
The pension proposals outlined today represent a retreat from collective bargaining and basic principles of retirement security. The proposal imposes rollbacks to levels not seen in four decades – the biggest pension rollback in California history. They punish everyday working people who have already sacrificed hundreds of millions of dollars in wages and benefits lost to furloughs, layoffs and downsizing.
For firefighters, it is an especially disappointing day. Our members depend on the promise of a reasonable, secure retirement in return for their commitment to a difficult and dangerous profession. These proposals make that future promise less secure for the next generation.
Firefighters in dozens of cities have agreed to two-tiered systems, higher contribution rates and crackdowns on spiking. To unilaterally impose these changes from Sacramento short-circuits a bargaining process that is producing real savings and mocks the governor’s stated commitment to local control.
Beyond its punitive nature, these pension changes could actually wind up imposing greater costs on public agencies, especially in the short term. According to a RAND study, firefighters over the age of 55 have a workplace injury rate that is more than a 60-percent greater than firefighters under the age of 45 years. That translates to higher workers’ comp and disability costs, as well as being bad for the safety of our citizens.
Nobody condones abuse of the pension system – least of all our members. But these proposals go far beyond “reform”. Instead they threaten basic retirement security for generations of front line first responders and their families.