Policy

First Hurdle Cleared in Implementing Pension Reform in San Diego, But Big Ruling Still to Come

Judge allows transition to 401(k) programs for new city employees to begin.

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Might we actually, really, actually, for real, (really, y'all) start seeing real pension reform catch on in California?

You'll all be sorry when there's nobody left to tell you how to live your lives!

A judge in San Diego decided today the city can go ahead and start implementing the reforms approved by voters in June through Proposition B. The proposition will put new city employees into 401(k) plans rather than pension funds and freezes the amount of pay used to determine pension levels for existing employees for five years. More Via the San Diego Union-Tribune:

The state Public Employment Relations Board, along with employee unions, had asked for an injunction through at least October as the agency investigated a union complaint. Labor accuses Mayor Jerry Sanders of illegally circumventing state labor law by crafting Proposition B as a citizens' initiative and then using the power and influence of his office to gather signatures on its behalf.

The city contends no labor negotiations were required because it was placed on the ballot through the gathering of 116,000 signatures from registered voters not by a legislative act of the City Council.

Judge Luis Vargas had previously issued a temporary restraining order preventing the city from taking any action on Proposition B. That order expired Friday and he refused Tuesday to grant a longer injunction.

In his written ruling, Vargas said he was satisfied with the progress made by the city and its unions on negotiating the terms of an interim 401(k) plan for new hires and noted that PERB will still have an opportunity to rule on the initiative's legality.

As that last sentence notes, this ruling doesn't actually end the fight. Vargas simply ruled that San Diego can start implementing Prop. B while the legality of the proposition is challenged.  

In other California union news, unions have raised $10 million to fight Proposition 32 so far, the November initiative that stops direct political donations to candidates from corporations and unions, but more importantly, stops payroll deductions as a tool to fund political activity.

By contrast, those evil corporate thugs who would like to turn the rich, vibrant economy of California into their own massive polo field have raised a mere $1.7 million.

That hasn't stopped opponents from declaring the proposition favors rich and powerful business leaders who don't have to take money from their workers' paychecks to support candidates (this is apparently a bad thing) and won't do anything about super PACs. As I've pointed out before, this argument is hilarious, because the opposition to the ballot initiative is organized by Alliance for a Better California 2012, funded by three different PACs. Isn't that a Super PAC?

And in Los Angeles, Tyrone Freeman, former Service Employees International Union leader, faces 15 federal charges of stealing from union dues and a union charity and funneling the money to himself and his family. That's also probably corporate America's fault as well, for making fancy and expensive things in the first place.