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Legislation Aims To End Public Workers’ Bargaining Power

Assembly member Allan Mansoor (R-Costa Mesa) has introduced a bill (AB 961) that aims to prevent California public employees from collectively bargaining for pension benefits, the AP/Contra Costa Times reports.

The legislation is similar to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's (R) proposal to strip most public employees in his state of collective bargaining power (Thompson, AP/Contra Costa Times, 2/22). Walker also called for public workers to increase their contributions to health and retirement plans.

Sixteen other states are considering or are expected to consider bills that could diminish the bargaining power of labor unions (Garofoli/Marinucci, San Francisco Chronicle, 2/23).

Bill Details

Pension changes are a major budgetary issue in California because CalPERS currently faces $75 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, as well as nearly $52 billion in unfunded retiree health care benefits.

AB 961 currently contains no specific language, but Mansoor said he plans to amend it later to eliminate collective bargaining on pensions. He added that the Assembly's Republican Pension Reform Working Group intends to release further details about proposed pension reforms within the next few weeks (AP/Contra Costa Times, 2/22).

Prospects for AB 961

Observers say Mansoor's bill has little chance of passing in the Democratic-controlled Legislature.

In addition, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) is unlikely to support the measure. During his first gubernatorial term more than 30 years ago, Brown signed a law giving collective bargaining power to state employees (Ortiz, Sacramento Bee, 2/23).

Similar Legislation

In related news, two Republican state senators have announced other pension reform legislation. The proposed bills are:

  • SB 689, by Sen. Tom Harman (R-Huntington Beach), which aims to strengthen reporting mandates for local and state public retirement systems; and
  • SB 520, by Sen. Mimi Walters (R-Laguna Niguel), which would enroll new public workers in a 401(k)-style retirement plan (AP/Contra Costa Times, 2/22).
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