Retirees of Defunct San Gabriel Valley Job Agency to CalPERS: ‘Don’t Throw Away Our Futures’

By Baer, Stephanie K. | Pasadena Star-News, April 19, 2017 | Go to article overview

Retirees of Defunct San Gabriel Valley Job Agency to CalPERS: ‘Don’t Throw Away Our Futures’


Baer, Stephanie K., Pasadena Star-News


Six retirees of a defunct San Gabriel Valley job training agency urged CalPERS board members on Tuesday to reconsider the decision to reduce pensions for nearly 200 retirees of the agency only to be told there was nothing the retirement system could do for them.

“I will not be able to financially recover from the loss,” one of the retirees, Teresa Rojo, 62, of Rialto, told California Public Employees’ Retirement System board members. “Please don’t throw away our futures. We have held our end of the bargain. We, as retirees, don’t deserve not to have what’s left of our lives thrown away.”

In March, the CalPERS board voted to terminate its contract with the East San Gabriel Human Services Consortium and begin the process of slashing pensions for 197 retirees of the job training agency, which had failed to make payments on retirees’ pensions for more than a year.

Unless the consortium pays a $19.3 million fee, which would fully fund current and future payments of retirement benefits to members, pension benefits will be reduced by about 63 percent for 191 retirees and 24 percent for six retirees starting July 1, 2017, according to CalPERS.

The reductions will likely be devastating for the retirees, many of whom fear losing their homes, filing for bankruptcy and not being able to pay for future medical treatments.

But board members, citing factors not fully in their control, did not give retirees the answers they were looking for.

“I’m sorry to all of you,” California Public Employees’ Retirement System board member Michael Bilbrey told retirees during the board’s finance and administration committee meeting in Sacramento. “If we had it in our own pockets we would give it to you but we don’t.”

The consortium, known as LA Works, was formed as a joint-powers authority in 1979 by the cities of West Covina, Azusa, Glendora and Covina. The agency laid off its employees and shut its doors in 2014 after Los Angeles County took away its funding amid a billing dispute.

In August 2015, the consortium stopped paying CalPERS its monthly contribution to fund members’ retirement benefits and accrued more than $400,000 in liabilities. …

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