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SD Reaches Pension Reform Compromise with Unions

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(Photo: Mayor Jerry Sanders announces a Pension reform compromise has been reached with city labor unions. Alison St John/KPBS )

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders announced a pension compromise with city labor unions. It came just hours before the city council was due to vote to put pension reform on the November ballot. KPBS reporter Alison St John has more.

San Diego voters will be spared the headache of figuring out complex pension reform this fall.  After months of  struggle and deadlock , the city’s unions ultimately reached a negotiated settlement for new hires.

Mayor Jerry Sanders says in 20 years, the new plan will save the city more than $20 million a year

Sanders :  I would like to think we’ve done what’s fair to the employees and fair to the taxpayers. I realize that a lot of the employees are still upset about the conditions, but I think this shows that we can work together, and second it means we are not suing each other again.

The new plan wont allow people to retire before the age of 55 and will cap pensions at 80 percent of salary. It will also require new hires to contribute 1percent to a new defined contribution plan, one step away from defined or guaranteed benefits.

Ann Smith, the attorney for the white collar workers' union, says that was one of the final sticking points to be overcome.

Smith : The mayor feels correctly that he established a defined contribution component, and it was in an amount that we could accept and not loose the defined benefit plan  - and therein lay the compromise.

Pension reform was one of Sander’s campaign promises in 2005.

Alison St John, KPBS news

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