San Diego councilmembers rejected a resolution Tuesday that would have allowed the city to hire an attorney to represent employees listed in a lawsuit against the pension overhaul measure, Proposition B.
The lawsuit, filed by the San Diego Municipal Employees Association and several other labor groups, claims several city officials violated labor laws by not meeting and conferring before Prop. B was put on the ballot.
Several of those officials appeared on a subpoena order in the lawsuit. The City Attorney recommended hiring an outside lawyer to represent the employees. Doing so would help the attorney’s office avoid any potential conflicts of interest, the resolution states.
The bid could have cost the city upwards of $250,000.
The resolution failed with a 4-4 vote, a city spokesperson confirmed.
Councilwoman Marti Emerald told City News Service that she opposed the resolution because the city shouldn’t have to defend the officials named in the lawsuit for what they say they did on their own time.
Prop. B passed in the California primary earlier this month. The measure would transition new city employees – except for police officers – from a pension to a 401(k)-style plan, if implemented. It would also place a cap on pensionable pay.
The measure faced and continues to see criticism from labor groups and Democrats, who say the plan bypasses negotiations with unions. Other critics say the savings from the measure aren’t guaranteed, posing a risk to future budgets.
An appeals court recently ruled that the measure must be heard by a Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) administrative law judge. The hearing will be held next month.
In the meantime, councilmembers have already started meeting to determine how they will implement the measure.