A coalition of union members lobbied legislators and testified in the state Capitol on Aug. 8 in support of a bill that would provide retirement security for private sector workers.
As it stands today, nearly half of California workers are at serious risk of falling into poverty when they can no longer work.
If workers don’t have any type of income to supplement Social Security, they will be forced to rely on the state’s safety net programs for basic necessities, potentially bankrupting the state.
“Social Security alone doesn’t do it,” said Bob Sigala, SEIU Local 521 retiree member. “SB 1234 would create a better future for working families and the younger generation. And it would boost the economy.”
The legislation introduced by Sen. Kevin De Leon (D-Calif.) would allow private employers to withhold around 3 percent of wages of participating employees. That money would be collected by the state and invested, to later provide a modest sum to workers who don’t have traditional pensions or 401(k) retirement plans.
“If we do nothing, millions of low- and middle-class families will slide into poverty when they can no longer work,” said Sen. De Leon to the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Aug. 8. “But if we think big, we have real potential to change the human condition.”
The coalition included members from SEIU 521, 1021, 1000, and 99. They lobbied Assembly members to gain support of the bill, including Mike Gatto (District 43), Jerry Hill (District 19), John Pérez (Speaker of Assembly), Steven Bradford (District 51), Charles Calderon (District 58), and Felipe Fuentes (District 39).
“I just think SB 1234 would stop the cycle of poverty for people without pensions,” said Ruben Garcia, Santa Clara County Eligibility Worker, SEIU Local 521. “It would let them retiree with pride and self-sufficiency.”
The bill has passed the Senate and Assembly committees. It is now awaiting a vote by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.