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In pension fight, union likens Villaraigosa to Scott Walker (updated)

Upset over proposed pension reforms for new civilian employees, the leadership behind SEIU Local 721 released a flyer today likening Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
Upset over proposed pension reforms for new civilian employees, the leadership behind SEIU Local 721 released a flyer today likening Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. SEIU Local 721

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s proposal to change pension benefits for new city employees was sharply criticized today by the leadership of a local union, who likened the mayor’s actions to those of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

A flyer from SEIU Local 721 features Villaraigosa and Walker side by side with the headline: “Separated at birth?” The piece goes onto accuse the mayor of using “Wisconsin tactics” to attack city workers.

At issue is Villaraigosa’s plan to reduce pension benefits for new civilian employees. His proposal calls for:

  • The retirement age to increase to 67
  • Benefits to be capped at 75 percent of final compensation
  • Cost of living adjustments to be reduced
  • Health benefits to be capped for employees and eliminated for dependents

The Executive Employee Relations Committee is considering the proposal. If approved, the pension plan will be sent to the Los Angeles City Council.

Earlier this week, Villaraigosa said that if the pension plan does not make it out of council, he would put it on the ballot for voters to decide. The mayor's office had no comment on SEIU's flyer.  

It was just a year ago that city unions agreed to increase pension contributions. City workers now pay 11 percent toward their retirement, saving the city $63 million this year, according to SEIU’s Lowell Goodman.

SEIU Local 721 represents 10,000 city employees.

In Wisconsin, Walker faced -- and beat -- a recall election after he took on the public employees' unions. 

This post has been updated.

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