If you think the decade-long saga of San Diego’s pension system is in the past, you’re wrong.
The state labor board has thrown down a doozy of a decision against the city, attacking former Mayor Jerry Sanders and other politicos’ machinations in advance of the June 2012 ballot initiative that gave most new city employees 401(k)s instead of pensions.
The result could cost the city a ton of money, restart the pension system that had been closed for new employees and generally cause pandemonium – and all because Sanders wanted his name on the pension initiative.
It goes back to the discussions about how to get the measure, Proposition B, on the 2012 ballot. The mayor is the city’s chief labor negotiator and state labor law clearly states that city employees are entitled to bargain for their benefits. Sanders and others tried to get around this by saying that he was acting as a “private citizen” not the mayor by backing the initiative. Had Sanders tried to negotiate the deal with labor groups, it’s likely the majority of the City Council would have stymied him. But he also had the option to let others do the initiative themselves. Labor unions sued throughout the process and the state’s Public Employees Relations Board released its final ruling Tuesday. (Scott Lewis did a rundown of this legal case a few years ago in a piece about City Attorney Jan Goldsmith.)