Proposition B, as you may have heard by now, is perhaps the most contentious city measure up for voter consideration this year. Put on the ballot by San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi, the measure would require city workers to pay more of their pension and health care costs. Public employee unions don’t like the idea much, to put it mildly. In a small indication of just what kind of political knife fight they’re engaged in with Prop B supporters, the Bay Citizen reported yesterday that a law firm representing city unions sent “cease-and-desist” letters to local television outlets Friday afternoon, demanding that Yes on B ads be pulled from the air because the closing disclaimer–the written language identifying the initiative’s sponsors–did not air for the legally required full five seconds.”

Here’s an explanation of Proposition B from Ballotpedia:

The Adachi Initiative would require police, firefighters and other city employees covered by CalPERS to contribute 10% of their pension contribution. These employees currently contribute either 7.5% or 9%, depending on when they were hired. The maximum amount that could come out of an individual worker’s paycheck toward his or her pension contribution would be 2.5%.

Other city employees, who currently contribute 7.5%, would contribute 9%. Muni workers, who currently contribute nothing, would have to start paying into the system as other city workers do, under the Adachi proposal. The initiative would also require city employees to pay for 50%, rather than 25%, of their family’s health care coverage.

Proposition B will effect about 11,000 workers, if it is approved.

The Bay Citizen took a close look at the proposition and put together a really informative chart comparing city employees’ current health care contributions to what they would pay if Proposition B passes. The increase in costs, the analysis found, range from $106 to a whopping $5445 per year, depending on the insurance plan the employee chooses.

That’s a really nice data set, because for the most part no one can agree on anything when it comes to Proposition B. For example, the Chronicle is running a piece today examining whether San Francisco teachers would have to pay more of their health care costs if Proposition B passes.

Public Defender Jeff Adachi, who wrote the measure, said it’s clear teachers are not included. But lawyers with the United Educators of San Francisco and the California Federation of Teachers have reviewed the measure and say teachers would be affected.

The committee charged with simplifying the measure for the ballot wasn’t sure either, according to Catherine Dodd, director of the city’s Health Service System. Earlier this month, Dodd said teachers would be affected, but Monday, she said they wouldn’t.

“It will all be decided after the election’s over,” she said Monday.

The city attorney’s office had no comment and must defend Prop. B in court if it passes and unions sue…

The school district’s teachers definitely wouldn’t be affected by the pension changes because they are part of the state’s retirement system. But they are part of the city’s health care system, though they’re not employed by the city – and therein lies the confusion.

Adachi is adamant that there shouldn’t be any confusion…

“For the life of me, I can’t figure out why they’re saying that teachers would be included in Prop. B when they’re specifically not included,” he said. “It’s cut-and-dried. It’s not a matter of opinion.”

But that’s just the latest spin from Adachi, said Dennis Kelly, president of the local teachers’ union, who said Adachi has repeatedly changed his story over the past six months.

“Adachi is flopping all around and lying about this right and left,” Kelly said.

You can take a look at the arguments of the pro and anti B forces in duelling editorials in the San Francisco Bay Guardian by Jeff Adachi and Tom Ammiano.

  • Honest Abe

    Because city workers have already agreed to pay their own retirement contributions in full, commencing July 01, 2011 [nine (9) months from now], it should be noted that regarding pension reform and prop b; very little money will be saved by forcing city workers to contribute their fair share a mere six [6] months prior to schedule.  

    so apparently then, the “big savings” hoped for by attempting to pass this poorly thought out piece of written scapegoating and bullying must come from the lesser emphasized “healthcare” component.

    in exchange for continued PREVENTIVE health care provisions to children or other needy legal dependant of the hard working city employee, the wealthy authors along with greedy bankroller venture capitalist and billionaire backers of this divisive proposition have opted to use this “hidden” aspect to boost their “savings” figure which they shamelessly tout knowing full well that such drastic cuts will not only displace the most vulnerable, namely children and retirees needing healthcare who cannot otherwise afford PREVENTIVE healthcare but to also undermine the overall universal healthcare concept, which most San Franciscans recognize as smart and cost effective.

    people, please see this for what it is and not for what it is not!  cuts to PREVENTIVE healthcare at minimal savings to the city fund will end up costing us tax payers double, triple and quadruple -when REACTIVE healthcare like urgent care and emergency room services at the medical industry’s skyrocketing rates and exorbitant costs and fees are factored in as the only remaining viable options for those no longer able to qualify for any other type of reasonably priced medical coverage!  please vote NO on B.

  • Honest Abe

    in exchange for continued PREVENTIVE health care provisions to children or other needy legal dependant of the hard working city employee, the wealthy authors along with greedy bankroller venture capitalist and billionaire backers of this divisive proposition have opted to use this “hidden” aspect to boost their “savings” figure which they shamelessly tout knowing full well that such drastic cuts will not only displace the most vulnerable, namely children and retirees needing healthcare who cannot otherwise afford PREVENTIVE healthcare but to also undermine the overall universal healthcare concept, which most San Franciscans recognize as smart and cost effective.

    people, please see this for what it is and not for what it is not!  
    cuts to PREVENTIVE healthcare at minimal savings to the city fund will end up costing us tax payers double, triple and quadruple -when REACTIVE healthcare like urgent care and emergency room services at the medical industry’s skyrocketing rates and exorbitant costs and fees are factored in as the only remaining viable options for those no longer able to qualify for any other type of reasonably priced medical coverage!  
    please vote NO on B.

Author

Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks writes mostly on film for KQED Arts. He is also an online editor and writer for KQED's daily news blog, News Fix. Jon is a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S.

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