I recently described how San Diego citizen activists helped pass public employee pension reform in San Diego, when we approved Proposition B in June of last year by an overwhelming majority.
Of course, no conservative victory can go unchallenged. And, when conservatives win clearly, opponents head to the court system to reverse the results of a vote they don’t like.
Such is the case with Proposition B.
In fact, there was a pre-election challenge that was led by the San Diego Municipal Employees Association (MEA)to prevent the measure even being on the ballot. As an example of union tactics, a case was filed with the California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) alleging that the City was required to bargain over Proposition B and so it shouldn’t go to a vote. Tim Yeung of the PERB blog reported on the first union failure:
The superior court denied PERB’s request for injunctive relief, finding that the electorate should have the opportunity to vote on Proposition B. Subsequently, the superior court issued a stay of PERB’s proceedings until after the election.
After passage of the measure, the unions went to PERB again to attempt to stop its implementation. This act, too, was full of fail.
PERB sued the city in Superior Court earlier this year to get the pension reform initiative removed from the June ballot and, after it was approved by two-thirds of the voters, tried to stop its implementation.
The agency has, separately, commenced administrative proceedings that have not been resolved.
According to the documents, a lawyer for the board filed for the dismissal on Monday.
“The Superior Court lawsuit was a wasteful effort by this politically charged agency to deter pension reform initiatives in California,” San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said. “PERB lost its motions because we demonstrated it had no legal justification.”
Opponents of Proposition B — primarily labor unions that represent municipal workers — contended that the city erred by placing the measure on the ballot without consulting them. Goldsmith maintained that the meet-and-confer process with unions was not required until the city began to implement its provisions.
The implementation process is taking place now.
The City Council recently instituted an interim 401(k)-type plan to offer most new employees, who will not be enrolled in the debt-ridden pension system. The plan was developed in consultation with union officials.
Negotiations are under way on a permanent retirement benefit.
Other provisions of Proposition B will be negotiated with the unions later.
Goldsmith indicates that more lawsuits filed by the unions are likely, as the implementation process continues.
The importance of having taxpayer-sensitive judges on the courts cannot be overlooked. Here is a question for Legal Insurrection readers to ponder: During elections, how much research do you do on judges?
One of the most important actions our group of activists in San Diego take is promoting a website that assesses the background and rulings of candidates, the California Judge Voter Guide. There also is a wealth of information on California judges at Judgepedia.
A court win over unions is a sign that slowly, the network of information promoted by citizen organizations is having a positive effect — even in my crazy state!