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Lost in the Wisconsin Shuffle: Two California Cities Rebuked Public Unions Last Night

12:15 PM, Jun 6, 2012 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
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While all eyes were on Wisconsin last night, few people noticed that public sector unions were also being targeted in California last night. Residents of both San Diego and San Jose voted to rein in exorbitant public employee retirement packages by huge margins:

In San Diego, 68 percent voted in favor of Proposition B while 32 percent were opposed.

The margin in San Jose was even wider, with 71 percent in favor of Measure B and 29 percent opposed. ...

The ballot measures differ on specifics. San Diego’s imposes a six-year freeze on pay levels used to determine pension benefits unless a two-thirds majority of the City Council votes to override it. It also puts new hires, except for police officers, into 401(k)-style plans.

More than 100,000 residents signed petitions to put the San Diego measure on the ballot.

Under San Jose’s measure, current workers have to pay up to 16 percent of their salaries to keep their retirement plan or accept more modest benefits. New hires would get less generous benefits.

Also worth noting is that these measures had support from key Democrats at the local level. Purple Wisconsin may be seen as the vanguard in the battle against public sector unions, but the places where the problems with public sector unions and their enormous pension and health care liabilities are the most acute tend to be more blue. After Wisconsin, the ultimate problem for defenders of public sector unions is not that GOP governors -- who never got any campaign cash from unions anyway -- will be more inclined to go after unions. It's that Democrats in states such as California, who are increasingly hedged in by crushing fiscal burdens, are feeling increasingly empowered to target unions.

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