After Meg Whitman easily defeated Steve Poizner on June 8, 2010 for the Republican gubernatorial primary, she stated that she is not tied to any special interests in her victory speech. She specifically called out public employee unions, such as those with a CalPERS pension plan.
It’s unclear what Whitman would to if she was able to become governor. Current California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is no friend of public employee unions and was soundly defeated at the ballot box when he tried to use the initiative process to push pension reform. However, times are very different now. The economy is poor in California. Not as poor as Nevada, but still quite poor. Harry Reid is on his way out of the Senate due to the very poor economy in Nevada. It was almost certain that the Nevada Senate seat will swing Republican except that Sharon Angle, the Tea Party candidate, beat her Republican party preferred candidate. Nevertheless, there is still a strong possibility that the Democratic Senate leader is going to be booted from office this November.
In the backdrop of these times, public employee unions are facing takeaways and furloughs. Mass layoffs have not happened except in education, but layoffs might spread if California economy continues to get worse. Jerry Brown talks about austerity, which may also not be good news for public employee unions. No matter how the election turns out, public employee unions should expect very difficult times ahead.