Despite candidates backed by public sector unions pretty much running the table in the statewide elections – they retained virtually every State Assembly and State Senate seat and among higher office, and only the Attorney General race still hangs in the balance – at the local level there were significant gains by union reformers.

A good summary of these local reforms can be found in the Pension Pulse article of November 4th entitled “Pension Reforms Sweep, except San Francisco,” by Ed Mendel. For example, local pension and benefit reform measures, bitterly opposed by public sector unions, were successful in Bakersfield, Menlo Park, San Jose, Riverside County, Redding, Pacific Grove, Carlsbad, and San Diego. Only San Francisco voters failed to enact a modest pension reform measure.

What is fascinating about these retirement benefit reforms is they are passing despite being decisively outspent by the public sector unions. As more cities and counties face insolvency, and as more voters realize that unsustainable public employee compensation and benefits are the real reason there are deficits and calls for higher taxes, it may become increasingly difficult for public sector unions to prevail in elections, even at the state level, no matter how much they spend.

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