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City of San Jose Pension Measure to Alter Measure B Reform Charter Amendment (November 2014)

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A City of San Jose Pension Measure to Alter Measure B Reform Charter Amendment was not put on the November 4, 2014 election ballot for voters in the city of San Jose in Santa Clara County, California.

In July city officials announced this potential ballot measure that would have softened 2012's Measure B reforms. The proposal would have allowed all public safety workers injured for more than a year to qualify for disability retirement. Measure B dictated, in part, that injured public safety employees had to prove they were incapable of performing desk work such as that of a dispatcher before qualifying for disability benefits. The proposed amendment plan, which was endorsed by Mayor Chuck Reed, would have also allowed any city officers that had left to enroll under the better pre-Measure B pension benefits if they returned by the end of 2016.[1]

Background

With crime rising and the quantity of arrests decreasing, San Jose City lawmakers regretted some of the pension reform approved by voters in 2012 through Measure B. The bundle of reform provisions sparked a harsh battle between the city, desperate to keep its head above water by cutting down huge pension costs, and labor unions representing the firefighters and police officers of the city. Some of the most contentious provisions of the measure that decreased pension benefits and increased employee contributions were invalidated in court. According to the San Jose Police Officers Association, other provisions of Measure B that decrease disability protections in part by requiring all injured workers to prove they are unable to perform desk work before qualifying for disability retirement, have pushed officers away from the city in droves. San Jose Police Officers Association President Jim Unland said the officers were leaving "because they have the worst pension plan in the state, it provides no disability protections for them if they're seriously hurt." Unland pointed out that the city hired 50 police officers in September of 2014 and that most of them had left before a year had passed. Unland said, “We have thirteen remaining. We can't continue to do this."[1]

Opposition

Ben Field, head of the South Bay Labor Council, said, "They want to look like they're doing something about the problem that they've created," but he insisted that the plan "does not solve the public safety crisis -- it will not help the city recruit and maintain police officers." Unland concluded, "San Jose is bleeding police officers faster than we can replace them and it's time for a tourniquet, not a Band-Aid, to stop the bleeding."[2][1]

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