The PJ Tatler

Unions Sue to Stop San Jose Pension Reforms

Voters voting is seldom the end of the story anymore, not if anyone on the left is upset. San Jose’s overwhelming vote to reform government union pension plans — a 70 percent thumping for Big Labor in blue California — is being taken to court.

San Jose voters Tuesday approved Measure B by a nearly 70-percent margin. Mayor Chuck Reed championed the measure to control pension costs that have soared from $73 million to $245 million in a decade and are projected to continue rising, outpacing revenues and forcing the city to cut staffing and services to residents to cover the bill.

But unions maintained the measure violates court rulings that prohibit government employers from reducing workers’ pension benefits during their career without offering something comparable in return.

“Measure B is unlawful and unconstitutional,” said Christopher Platten, an attorney for the firefighters [union]. “Measure B impairs promises made to current and retired San Jose employees for decades.”

The unions asked the court to block implementation of Measure B’s provisions while the case is decided.

“If we lose, so be it, but we’ll at least try to fight it,” said San Jose Police Officers’ Association President Jim Unland.

Reed said he was not surprised by the union lawsuits. San Jose preemptively filed suit in federal court Tuesday seeking a ruling affirming Measure B’s legality.

“This is California,” Reed said. “Nothing important happens without litigation.”

Reed was confident Measure B will withstand legal challenges because the state constitution and city charter grant its elected leaders authority over employee compensation.

Mayor Reed is a Democrat, by the way.