What are the Issues Playing Out with Our City and County Retiree Pensions?
Why do we need to amend San Francisco’s charter to include Restore Retired City Workers Earned Benefits 2021? It’s a simple answer. Our seniors deserve better.
Many of our retired City and County worker members depend on their pension benefits as their sole source of income to cover food, rent and prescriptions during their retirement years.
Unfortunately, many of these former City workers such as teachers, clerks, gardeners, janitors, laborers, conductors etc., are living out the end of their days on pensions insufficient to cover their basic needs
- In 1996 the Board of Supervisors sponsored a ballot measure that did create a Supplemental Cost of Living Adjustment (SCOLA) for City Retirees. Employees who had been retired 30 or more years received an average pension of $550 per month. Inflation had so eroded the purchasing power that these pensioners were living below the poverty level.
- The Board of Supervisors stated that it was an issue of fairness in its 1996 ballot argument in favor of prop C. The voters agreed. The passage of Prop C in 1996 raised the existing COLA from 2% to 3% in years when the Retirement System had excess investment earnings over their assumed rate of return for the prior fiscal year.
- In 2011, Prop C Pension Reform ballot measure changed the method for Supplemental COLAs to be paid out. Litigation followed and the Courts restored the Supplemental Cost of Living Adjustments to all but the original retirees — those who retired prior to 1996.
- Approximately 4,500 retirees are involved. Many have given more than 30 years of dedicated and loyal service to the City and County of San Francisco. This number of our most senior and vulnerable retirees, whose average age is in the mid 80s, and grows smaller each year. It is anticipated the average expected remaining lifetime of this aging group of retirees is 5 more years.
- We cannot allow this unfair condition to continue. Such exclusion must be reversed. Our ballot measure would correct this injustice and restore a modest increase to their pension allowance which they earned and contributed from their paychecks, while offering a measure of protection against inflation. We believe all fair-minded voters would agree and support such a measure.