The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

May 25, 2011
Union coalition tap dances on Niello pension plan's demise

110224 dave low.JPGFormer Assemblyman Roger Niello's initiative to rollback public pension benefits "will end up in the scrapheap of politically-motivated failures," said Dave Low, chairman of Californians for Retirement Security, in a statement released by the union coalition Tuesday evening.

As reported by Bee colleague Paresh Dave on Tuesday, Niello has decided he won't pursue collecting signatures to put his public pension rollback initiative on the ballot, although the secretary of state has said that he can begin working to place it before voters.

Niello, a Fair Oaks Republican who has said he's considering a run at statewide office, said with a special election on taxes later this year looking more and more remote, there's no urgency to make sure "pension reform" goes up for a vote.

The union coalition followed the news with a statement from Low that hit The State Worker's e-mail inbox at 9:01 p.m. Tuesday night:

It is appropriate that the flawed Niello initiative to gut retirement security for millions of Californians will end up in the scrapheap of politically-motivated failures instead of on the ballot. It was a poorly drafted attempt to punish middle-class workers and it ignored the fact that workers have agreed to substantial reductions in retirement benefits and have increased their contributions towards pensions from 5 to 10 percent. We continue to believe the way to improve the state's pension system is at the bargaining table, not the ballot box.

Imagine what Low will say if backers of a pension rollback plan actually start collecting signatures or if a measure actually gets on the ballot. (Niello says he might tweak his plan for a vote next year.)

PHOTO: Dave Low / Sacramento Bee file

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at


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