San Jose Police Union in new employment dispute on pension issues

San Jose voters thought that the pension issues that have been in dispute between the San Jose Police Officer's Association and the City Council had been resolved when they approved the Measure "B" pension reform proposition. The measure was passed in June 2012, having received 70 percent voter approval. However, a new law suit has been filed that may affect this and another employment dispute litigation currently awaiting decision in Santa Clara County Superior Court.

The Police union's law suit cites violation of state labor laws by the San Jose City Council. It claims that city representatives failed to negotiate with the union to the "required extent" before it placed Measure "B" on the city ballot in June 2012. They are asking the court to order that the amendment be voided, stating that it should not have been on the ballot to begin with.

The current law suit joins several others filed by the police association that challenged the measure on its substance. Those law suits claimed that the measure violated vested pension rights. The newly filed law suit refers only to the procedure by which the measure was placed on the ballot.

The San Jose Mayor, who favors the amendment, said that he believes the court will ultimately find that city council attendance at 100s of hours of bargaining sessions fulfilled its obligation to meet-and confer. The State Attorney General, while not endorsing the law suit itself, gave permission for it to be filed so that the court could decide the matter. Unless the court finds that the negotiations failed to meet the established good faith bargaining requirements, the measure will stand.

This new employment dispute is being closely watched by other groups and individuals who have similar cases pending in Santa Clara County. These cases are procedural in nature also, citing failure to bargain issues. How the court finds in this matter does have the potential to affect the outcome of other suits pending in court and administrative complaints that are on file with the Public Employment Relations Board.

Source: kqed.com, "San Jose Police Challenge Pension Reform," May 1, 2013

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