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California Court Rules San Diego Pension Cuts Shouldn’t Have Been on Ballot

August 15, 2018

By Steve Wishnia and Neal Tepel

SAN DIEGO, CA.—The California Supreme Court ruled that San Diego’s 2012 initiative eliminating pensions for future city workers was not legally placed on the ballot. The court held that the measure, which replaced pensions with 401(k)-style plans for all newly hired city workers except police officers, should not have been on the ballot because then-Mayor Jerry Sanders hadn’t tried to negotiate the issue with labor unions first. The decision overturned a state appeals court’s ruling last year invalidating the state Public Employment Relations Board’s conclusion that the city had to compensate the 4,000 workers hired since pensions were eliminated. It sent the case back to the appeals court to find “an appropriate judicial remedy.” Lawyers for city workers’ unions said the only way to do that would be to nullify the pension cuts. The state labor board’s ruling said that under state law, Sanders was legally obligated to negotiate with the unions, because he’d proposed the initiative and campaigned for it. The mayor claimed that he didn’t have to because he supported the measure as a private citizen, not as part of his official duties. That claim “does not withstand objective scrutiny,” the court said. Read more

August 15, 2018

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