For nearly three decades, Sandy Meza helped young people, unemployed workers and former jail inmates find work.
Now, after CalPERS slashed pensions for Meza and hundreds of other former employees of a defunct San Gabriel Valley job training agency by nearly two-thirds, the 62-year-old Chino resident is looking for a job of her own.
“It’s like this dark cloud hanging over you all the time,” Meza said on a recent morning.
In January, the California Employees’ Retirement System notified more than 170 former employees of the East San Gabriel Valley Human Services Consortium, known as LA Works, that because the agency hadn’t made payments on their retirement benefits in over a year, their pensions could be reduced.
The cuts were approved by the CalPERS board in March and took effect July 1. Most saw their pensions reduced by about 63 percent.
That meant a drastic change in lifestyle for 78-year-old Shari Plaster, who lives in Indio.
“Everything you planned for during your working years must be reduced by 63 percent — living expenses, planned vacations, certain activities with the grandchildren, friends and life in general,” Plaster, who worked at the agency for 27 years, said in a written statement.
Meza and her husband recently asked their three adult children to pay the mortgage on their Chino home.
Sitting in the living room of the house they purchased 25 years ago, Meza fought back tears. Her husband Miguel’s voice was audible from the next room as he spoke with a Medicare representative about lowering the costs of his Parkinson’s disease medications — his request was later denied.
The couple said they…
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