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Secure Retirement Advocate Counters Claims by Pension Foe During Press Club Debate

Dave Low (at right), the executive director of the California School Employees Association, during a debate Wednesday before the Sacramento Press Club, emphasizes the importance of a secure pension to members of his Association, including bus drivers and other dedicated workers whose retirement pay swirls around $1500 a month.

Low countered assertions by Marcia Fritz (at left), of the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility, who argued that the state’s dire fiscal condition stems from generous employee pensions.

Low noted that through negotiations, local unions had given back many of the pension gains they had won in recent years.  He stressed that no union would demand pay or benefits that would bankrupt the local agency that employs its members.

Fritz contended that pension spending is the fastest growing city expenditure and that pension costs are forcing the state to lay off teachers, leaving debt for our children to pay. She also argued that retirement benefits among highest in the nation, unmatched by the private sector.

Low countered that the state’s economic woes reflect a recession prompted by Wall Street manipulations and greed.  He also argued that media reports have sensationalized the small percentage of cases in public pension systems where the highest-paid executives have been able to “spike” their pensions.  Low said unions have been pressing for pension reform that would close the loopholes that allow a few ranking employees to secure unfair advantage.

Low underscored that the machinations on Wall Street had cost the California State Employees’ Pension System more than $64 billion.

Low said that his members and the more than one-million member Californians for Retirement Security are supporting elements of Gov. Brown’s pension reform package that would eliminate spiking and other irregularities.

Photo and story by Len Feldman

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