Live: San Jose City Council Discusses ‘Fiscal State of Emergency’ as Labor Invokes Wisconsin

The San Jose City Council meets today at 1:30 p.m. and you can watch the proceedings live online. Here is today’s agenda, which includes discussion of a controversial fiscal reform plan, outlined in this memo from Mayor Chuck Reed, Vice Mayor Madison Nguyen, Councilmember Rose Herrera, and Councilmember Sam Liccardo to the City Council. The plan includes the following:

  1. Declare a fiscal and public safety emergency

    This would “direct staff to return to the Council on June 2 with a formal declaration that describes the necessity of making fiscal reforms to avert a fiscal disaster, prevent substantial degradation of public safety and other vital city services, and maintain the integrity of our retirement system so that earned and accrued benefits can be paid to current and future retirees.”

  2. Amend the charter in order to limit retirement benefits and to require voter approval of increases in retirement benefits

    This aspect would include placing limits on retirement benefits, including health coverage, for new employees, and capping the the rate of increase of benefits for existing employees.

    The proposal also calls for a graduated increase in the number of years employees need to have worked to qualify for health benefits after they retire.

    In addition, bonuses, increases, and other pension payments to retirees would be restricted if the city’s pension or retiree health care plans “have unfunded liabilities…greater than those existing on June 30, 2010.”

    The proposal calls for a ballot measure to amend the charter in November, with ballot language to be worked up by August 2.

    You can watch the meeting at the link below:

    WATCH LIVE HERE Needless to say, city unions are not happy about this at all. So unhappy, in fact, that the South Bay Labor Council has turned to a Wisconsin state senator, Spencer Coggs from Milwaukee, to help portray the plan as “Wisconsin-style union busting.” From a press release from the organization announcing a press conference with Coggs today:

    In an indication of how Wisconsin-style union busting has arrived in San Jose, a Wisconsin state senator who led the fight against anti-union legislation in that state will hold a noon press conference Tuesday at San Jose City Hall in support of our city’s union workers.

    The appearance by Sen. Spencer Coggs, a Milwaukee Democrat, comes just hours before the San Jose City Council is scheduled to declare a fiscal emergency and call a voter referendum that would effectively end collective bargaining for city workers.

    Mayor Chuck Reed’s surprise proposal, which came a week ago in the midst of productive labor negotiations, has been branded “a government finance version of martial law” by the New York Times and blasted by legal experts as an unprecedented challenged to settled law.

    To hear both sides of the debate, listen to today’s Forum program show from KQED Radio. Guests included Mayor Reed, San Jose City Council member Ash Kalra, and Robert Sapien, president of the San Jose Firefighters IAFF Local 230.

    NPR also has a story today on the spread of collective bargaining curbs across the country.

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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