San Diego’s 5-year-old pension reform measure is legal, a California appellate court ruled this week.
Proponents and opponents of the plan agree on one thing: The ruling could have major repercussions throughout the state. They just disagree on whether that’s good or bad.
Voters in 2012 approved Proposition B, freezing employees’ pensionable pay for five years and switching new employees – except cops – from pensions to 401ks. The state labor board just 15 months ago ruled the city broke state law when it didn’t negotiate with unions before pursuing the initiative.
The 4th District Court of Appeal this week ruled the city didn’t need to negotiate, since it was a citizens’ initiative, not one put forward by the city itself. The city’s labor union is now pursuing an appeal to the state Supreme Court.
At issue was the involvement of former Mayor Jerry Sanders. The mayor is the city’s chief labor negotiator, yet he was heavily involved in supporting the measure. The city’s white-collar labor union argued his involvement meant it was really a city initiative masquerading as a citizens’ initiative; the city argued Sanders supported the measure as a private citizen.
The court sided with the city, saying essentially the city only would have needed to negotiate with the union if the City Council itself had put the measure forward.