On Monday, Riverside County supervisors voted unanimously to dramatically reduce retirement benefits for all newly hired employees.
The move won't save the county a dime in the short term. It won't help balance the county's budget. It won't keep vital services operating. And it probably isn't even legal.
So why do it?
The county supervisors' unilateral action is nothing more than a naked attack on workers' rights. That's because the move won't affect current pension obligations. What's more, given the economy, the county is unlikely to hire new employees anytime soon. So there's no good justifications for the move. As one county employee put it, it's just a “back-sided attempt to break our union.”
If this sounds familiar, it's because the Riverside supervisors' action is a carbon copy of what anti-worker Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker rammed through his state legislature last month.
The supervisors didn't have to do this. County workers in Riverside, eager to take leadership on the county's budget problems, proposed millions of dollars in cost-saving measures, all of which would generate immediate savings. “We're ready to address these problems,” SEIU 721's Steve Matthews told the supervisors.
But sadly, the supervisors turned deaf ears to the hard-working men and women who provide essential service to Riverside's citizens. They'd rather attack working people than solve problems. They'd rather float dubious anti-worker legislation than build stronger communities. They'd rather divide than lead.
In both Wisconsin and Riverside, this is a recipe for failure.