April 17, 2017
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
San Diego, CA – A California court on Apr. 11 upheld a 2012 San Diego ballot initiative that cut retirement benefits for city workers. The 4th District Court of Appeal unanimously overturned the state Public Employee Relations Board’s 2015 ruling that the measure violated state law on public employees’ collective-bargaining rights.
The San Diego Municipal Employees union had argued that the initiative, which temporarily froze pay levels used to calculate pension benefits and put all new employees except for police officers into 401(k)-style plans instead of pensions, was illegal because it hadn’t been bargained, and because then-Mayor Jerry Sanders had campaigned for it instead of negotiating with the unions. The court held that Sanders had the right to support the initiative both as an individual and as mayor. Michael Zucchet, the union’s general manager, said the ruling “severely undermined” state law on public workers’ rights, and created a “workaround” where governments “don’t really need to bargain actually.” Read more