San Diego

California Supreme Court Rejects 2012 San Diego Pension Measure

What to Know

  • Prop B was passed by San Diego voters in 2012 affecting all city workers except police officers.
  • The then-mayor bypassed employee unions and put the pension reform on the ballot to let voters decide.
  • The Public Employment Relations Board issued a ruling in December 2015 saying that violated state labor law.

In a win for public employee unions, the California Supreme Court has rejected a ballot measure in San Diego that cut retirement benefits for city workers.

The court ruled unanimously on Thursday that then-San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders should have met with a union for city workers before the city placed the measure before voters.

In 2012, voters approved the ballot measure Proposition B which aimed to transition new city hires -- except police officers -- from pensions to 401(k)-style retirement plans.

The Supreme Court said Sanders played a major role in promoting the measure and acted illegally by not talking with the city's union before pursuing the measure.

State law requires government officials to confer in good faith with public employee unions about wages and other terms of employment. San Diego argued that the pension measure was sponsored by citizens, so it was exempt from the meet and confer requirement.

Gerry Braun, chief of staff for the San Diego city attorney, said the office was reviewing the ruling.

The ruling Thursday has created an almost impossible number of questions involving the city unions, the IRS, the city attorney and the mayor's office, according to Voice of San Diego CEO Scott Lewis. 

“Does that mean this entire new pension system is thrown out the door,” asked VoiceofSanDiego CEO Scott Lewis. "Do the 4,000 city employees hired after 2012 all get their pensions back?"

"Do they want them back?" he added.

It’s important to note early that the Supreme Court did not invalidate the pension plan changes but instead agreed with labor that the measure should not have been on the ballot and ordered the appeals court to reconsider the issue in light of that decision. 

Watch our coverage of the ruling and reaction from some of the key people behind Prop B on NBC 7 News at 4. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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