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Court of Appeals Prop B Ruling Reverses PERB

Today the Fourth District Court of Appeal issued its opinion in the Prop B case declaring that the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) got it wrong and that no meet and confer obligation under state law ever arose in connection with these drastic changes to pensions and compensation for City employees hired on or after July 20, 2012.

In a long, tortured analysis, the Court rejects PERB’s conclusions applying the law to the undisputed facts and concludes instead that nothing Mayor Sanders did and said repeatedly (and using City resources) from and after November 2010 – when he first stood under the City seal on the 11th floor of City Hall to announce his intention to “transform” City pensions by using a citizens’ initiative to avoid collective bargaining obligations – triggered any City duty to meet and confer with MEA (and other City Unions) over subject matter which goes to the heart of the employment relationship – compensation and pensions.

This decision condones the opt-out scheme which Mayor Sanders and his allies adopted – and in which the City Council became complicit – to defeat rights guaranteed to all public employees under California’s statewide collective bargaining law, the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act (MMBA).  The result, if it stands, means that Prop B not only transformed City of San Diego pensions but also has now transformed the MMBA itself by undermining its guarantees which have fostered labor peace in California since 1968.

This decision is a disheartening setback in MEA’s righteous battle to gain the City’s compliance with this important statewide bargaining law.  However, your MEA leadership remains fully committed to this effort.  Beyond its adverse impact within the City of San Diego, this decision undermines the rights of all public sector employees in California who rely on their employers’ compliance with the MMBA’s good faith bargaining obligations.  MEA’s leadership will not be deterred and will be meeting tomorrow to discuss authorizing MEA labor counsel Ann Smith to take all timely steps necessary to seek review by the California Supreme Court.