January 6, 2016
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
San Diego, CA – California’s Public Employment Relations Board has ordered the city of San Diego to restore defined-benefit pensions for its employees, voiding a 2012 ballot initiative that replaced them with 401(k)-style retirement plans.
The board’s Dec. 30 ruling held that the Proposition B initiative, which passed by a 2–1 margin, violated a state law that cities cannot reduce workers’ compensation without good-faith “meet-and-confer” negotiations. It ordered the city to reimburse the employees “for the value of any and all lost compensation, including but not limited to pension benefits,” plus 7% interest and attorneys’ fees. Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s administration plans to appeal. “The law does not give labor unions the power to negotiate the terms of a citizens' initiative,” City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said. City labor leaders responded that appeals courts had previously prevented the city from avoiding the state labor board’s proceedings on union claims of unfair labor practices. “We tried and tried to get them to meet and confer,” said Frank De Clercq, former president of International Fire Fighters Association Local 145, “but they refused.” Read more