Arizona Judge Strikes Down Pension Rule. Pension Fights Pending Other States.

Originally posted Feb 10, 2012

Razing Arizona: Gov. Jan Brewer and her legislative allies lost this round over public pensions, but have a whole slew of plans that would hurt working families. Click here to see the video and sign the open letter.

Anti-worker politicians continue to push a slew of ALEC-inspired legislation in Arizona aiming to take away the rights of public service workers. They want to make it harder for police and firefighters to stay safe on the job, expand class sizes for public school teachers and make it impossible for all public workers to bargain collectively. All of this came on the heels of a unilateral pay cut enacted by Brewer and the state legislature when they raised the amount public workers pay into their pension plans.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Eileen Willett, however, struck down this backdoor pay cut just last week. According to Judge Willett, the pension change broke a contractual agreement between the workers and the state government and therefore violated the state constitution. Willett’s common sense ruling is a good sign for AFSCME members in other states who are fighting to protect the benefits they have long been promised.

In California, public workers are under attack at the state and municipal level. The “hybrid” pension plan offered by Cali. Gov. Jerry Brown includes a 401(k)-style component that will place a dangerous burden on public workers, including low-income employees who are least able to absorb stock market losses. Measures on the ballot in San Diego and San Jose this June would leave future city workers with inadequate retirement security and harm current workers by repealing their vested pension benefits.

AFSCME members in California, Arizona and across the country are on the front lines of the fight to protect a future in which workers can retire in dignity after their many years of public service.