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Mansoor introduces bill to stop pension bargaining

The Costa Mesa state assemblyman's bill would end collective bargaining of pension benefits for state employees.

February 22, 2011|By Joseph Serna, joseph.serna@latimes.com

Editor's note: This adds the attribution in the third paragraph.

COSTA MESA — Assemblyman Allan Mansoor, who never shied away from a policy battle as mayor of Costa Mesa, now is proposing state legislation that would remove collective bargaining for public employee pensions in California.

Mansoor's office announced Tuesday that he's proposing Assembly Bill 961, which would end collective bargaining for pension benefits for state employees.

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"As a former deputy sheriff and union member, I know how the process works," he said in a phone interview from Sacramento.

"The public employee unions have all the power to influence politicians and it's the taxpayer with no one at the table advocating on their behalf … it's gotten way out of control and the taxpayer should not have to pay increasingly higher amounts," he said.

In a news release saying he was introducing the bill, Mansoor said he stood in "solidarity" with Republican legislators in Wisconsin fighting for significant changes to collective bargaining rules in that Midwestern state.

Unlike in Wisconsin, though, Mansoor said A.B. 961 would only remove the power of unions to bargain collectively on pensions, not wages or health benefits.

Those fights, Mansoor suggested, could come in other future bills.

"The real agenda is to demonize a class of working people who are one of the main cornerstones of our economy and to create a situation where the middle class has less power to influence the affairs of state and, thus, concentrate more and more power in the hands of corporations and business," said Carroll Wills, spokesman for the California Professional Firefighters union, which represents more than 30,000 firefighters in the state.

"These are the people bearing the brunt of economic hardships," Wills said. "The main entity fighting on their behalf is organized labor."

"At this point, I would say that Assembly member Mansoor is out of touch with the reforms made during last year's legislative sessions and out of touch with the reforms local unions have agreed to in regards to pensions, pay and benefits," said Ron Cottingham, president of the Peace Officers Research Assn. of California, which represents more than 62,000 local, state and federal law enforcement employees.

The Republican Pension Reform Working Group in the assembly will release details on their reform ideas in the coming weeks.

According to a study last year by the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, California's pension fund, CalPERS, faces nearly $240 billion in unfunded liabilities.

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