Good news: Unanimous panel of 3 PERB Board members finds that San Diego violated MMBA with 2012 ballot initiative that eliminated defined benefit pensions for new employees (except new cops), replacing them with 401k benefits. The Mayor refused to bargain by claiming he was presenting it as a private citizen, not as the Mayor. As PERB concludes, adopting the reasoning of the administrative law judge who first considered the case, this was a sham.

The next legal steps are messy: The unions will petition the Attorney General for leave to sue in quo warranto. When that is approved, as it will be, the unions will sue in superior court to invalidate the ballot measure based on the PERB ruling. (PERB has concluded that only a court has the legal authority to invalidate a city charter provision.)

Meanwhile the city will separately appeal directly to the court of appeal, which is the normal method for challenging a decision of the PERB Board. So two parallel legal tracts going forward.

It is hard to see this case being concluded before 2018—6 years after the voters passed the offending ordinance.

But this is an important win for labor.

If you have any questions about this blog, please contact Gregg Adam at 415.266.1801 or