(BCN) The San Jose Police Officers’ Association on Tuesday filed a lawsuit in Santa Clara County Superior Court challenging San Jose’s voter-approved Measure B pension reform proposition.

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed (Tom Clifton/Flickr)
San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed (Tom Clifton/Flickr)

The lawsuit charges the City Council violated a state labor law by failing to bargain with the union to the required extent before placing the measure on the June 5, 2012, city ballot.

It claims the city charter amendment to clamp down on soaring pension costs for public employees therefore shouldn’t have been placed on the ballot to begin with.

“If the courts agree with our facts, then Measure B will be struck down,” union attorney Gregg Adams said.

The lawsuit asks for a court order declaring the charter amendment void.

It joins 10 previous lawsuits and administrative charges filed by individuals and unions, including the police association itself, to challenge the measure on various grounds.

Adams said that while the police union’s earlier lawsuit challenges the substance of Measure B by claiming that it violates vested pension rights, the new lawsuit disputes the process by which it was put on the ballot.

“It’s a procedural lawsuit, but it could invalidate the whole measure,” Adams said.

Mayor Chuck Reed, who championed Measure B, said in a statement that the city “spent hundreds of hours negotiating with its employee unions over the Measure B pension reforms.”

“I am confident that the courts will agree that the city bargained in good faith and fulfilled all of its meet-and-confer obligations,” Reed said.

The charter amendment, enacted by nearly 70 percent of city voters, gives current employees the option of taking a lower pension or paying more for their current plan, and requires new employees to pay 50 percent of pension costs.

The police union’s new lawsuit required the permission of the office of state Attorney General Kamala Harris before it could be filed. The office gave that permission two weeks ago.

Harris spokeswoman Lynda Gledhill said the go-ahead doesn’t mean that Harris endorses the lawsuit, but merely that the attorney general agreed that the issue should go before a judge.

Of the other 10 lawsuits and complaints, six lawsuits that challenge the substance of the charter amendment, including the police union’s 2012 lawsuit, are due to go to trial together before Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Patricia Lucas on July 22, according to Adams and City Attorney Rick Doyle.

Four other cases filed by groups including engineers’ and firefighters’ unions are based on procedural claims of failure to bargain, similar to the claims in the new police union lawsuit.

Those cases were filed as charges of unfair labor practices with the state Public Employment Relations Board, which has jurisdiction over most government worker unions, but not police unions, in such matters.

In March, PERB accepted those charges as administrative complaints.

San Jose Police Union Challenges Pension Reform Measure 1 May,2013KQED News Staff and Wires

  • Tough Love

    Surprise surprise … those with the MOST EXCESSIVE pensions want to keep it that way.

    To bad, policing was staffed by honorable/ethical people at one time.

    Taxpayers … regardless of what the COURTS say …. renege on the excessive pension promises … they’ve “EARNED IT”.

  • SeeSaw

    The Courts will make the decision and it will be abided by, TL. You cannot just say, “NO”!

    • Tough Love

      Perhaps you’re too old to understand, but Reality and MATH govern and supersede what the law, regulations, past practice, or how the Courts rule.

      The money will come up short, pensions will be cuts and the in-fighting for the spoils will begin as the Plans circle the drain.

  • SeeSaw

    If you are so sure that math will take care of the problem, why bother yourself about it, then. What tax liabilities have you personally declined to pay, TL?

    • Tough Love

      I “bother” because the insatiable greed of Public Sector Unions/workers, approved in the form of grossly excessive pay & benefits by our self-serving, vote-selling, contribution soliciting elected officials (who betrayed their obligation to represent TAXPAYER, not Employee interests) translates into an unjust and unfair Tax burden on Private Sector taxpayers

      The Taxpayer paid-for share of Public Sector pensions must be reduced (for CURRENT workers) to a level no greater than what is typically granted Private Sector workers by their employers.

  • SeeSaw

    I have not seen the evidence yet. If the CB rules were followed, the City of San Jose has nothing to fear. If they were not–the decision should ride on that question.

  • SeeSaw

    Infighting will have no bearing on pensions–it will be a according to the pension laws of the State of CA.

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