Judge Delivers Complete Victory to MEA Legal Challenge in Initial Ruling on Prop B
In a sweeping vindication of the legal rights of City employees under State bargaining laws, a Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) Administrative Law Judge issued a comprehensive 58-page ruling (attached) supporting every aspect of MEA’s legal challenge against Proposition B (the “Comprehensive Pension Reform” ballot measure), and in the process rejecting every argument offered by City Attorney Jan Goldsmith that the City was somehow above that law.
The ruling stems from MEA’s allegations that the City had a duty to meet and confer with employees before putting the CPR measure on the June 2012 ballot, while Mayor Sanders and the City Attorney argued that they could act as “private citizens” to avoid complying with the meet and confer requirement. In his ruling, the Judge rejected the City’s “private citizen” ruse and offered a stinging critique of the City’s conduct: “Though he characterized his initiative campaign as the activity of a private citizen, the Mayor pursued pension reform in his capacity as an elected official, and could not disown his statutory obligation” to negotiate with employees.
The remedy called for by the Judge is exactly what MEA requested, including the rescinding of Proposition B and a return to the “status quo” that existed at the time the City refused to meet and confer, including the restoration of the pension benefits policy as it existed prior to the adoption of Prop B. However, the City—if it chooses to pursue them—has a number of appellate rights in this case, including an appeal to the full PERB Board and ultimately to the California Court of Appeals and Supreme Court. Until there is a FINAL ruling in the case, Proposition B is likely to remain the law in San Diego, and the remedy called for in this decision will be “on hold.” But Round One of this legal fight is firmly in the victory column for MEA-represented employees, and the result is exactly what we hoped for: an overwhelming, undisputed factual record has been created and an initial ruling has been made that will become the basis for the potential appeals process. As a matter of law, and based on this factual record, this decision should withstand scrutiny by any court that may review it in the future.
We will provide additional updates in the coming days and weeks as the next steps in the process become more clear. Special thanks and congratulations to MEA attorney Ann Smith, who initiated and litigated this challenge from the very beginning. As usual, her incredible vision, diligence, preparation and skills dominated these proceedings and were the key to this decision coming out as it did. Thank you and congratulations Ann and all MEA-represented employees!
Prop B PERB Decision