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Thursday, July 13, 2006 | For two years the spotlight has focused on San Diego city employees’ retirement benefits and the city’s under-funding of our retirement system. Finger-pointing, accusations, investigations, and untrue media hype have surrounded the city’s financial predicament. The flames are fanned with suggestions that employees’ benefits are “Cadillac,” even though studies have shown San Diego to be near the bottom of the list compared to surrounding cities in benefit and pay compensation. Employees are told to forget about raises, even though National City, Chula Vista, Lemon Grove and the county have all given raises to their employees this year.

Outsourcing and bankruptcy threats are used to hammer the unions into submission. People completely ignore the employees’ substantial personal contributions paid bi-weekly into the pension fund. The city attorney repeatedly refers to our benefits as illegal, even though there is no consensus from the courts.

Only now that the city’s police officers are leaving in droves, in search of better pay and benefits elsewhere, does the mayor finally realize the damage being done. Spot bonuses and promises of future raises don’t cut it. Why would police officers believe the mayor when he is actively supporting Mr. Aguirre in his attempts to roll back our hard earned benefits? The city’s credibility is shattered and employee morale is incredibly low.

The barrage of attacks continues – underlying jealousy has raised its ugly head and focused on the San Diego city employees’ retirements. People forget that most city employees won’t receive social security benefits to boost their retirement incomes. Apparently citizens don’t realize that their demands to wipe out livable retirements and health care for current employees (public and private) will transcend into the next generation, when their sons, daughters and grandchildren will be retiring.

The loss of health care and reasonable benefits will rob their offspring of any hope of retirement during their lifetime. We can all look forward to our children working into their 80’s because of a society that is anti-union. Remember for whom the bell tolls.

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