This article was written by the MEA staff and published in E-News on March 25, 2019.
State Appeals Court Issues Favorable Decision Today Rejecting City’s Arguments and Upholding Central Components of PERB’s Remedy in Prop B Case
Last Monday, the United States Supreme Court denied the City’s Petition seeking to reverse the California Supreme Court’s favorable ruling in our Prop B case. This denial means the California Supreme Court’s ruling that the City purposefully evaded its meet-and-confer obligations under state law is final and binding, together with its conclusion that Prop B was illegally placed on the ballot in June 2012 — just as MEA has argued during the entire course of this litigation.
Today, the 4th District Court of Appeal issued its decision on remedy after remand by the CA Supreme Court. The decision represents another significant victory for MEA-represented employees in this litigation. With only minor modifications — and over the strenuous objections of the City and the Ballot Proponents — the Court upheld the Public Employment Relations Board’s (PERB) “make whole” order and the path PERB provided for Unions to seek invalidation of Prop B:
1) The City is ordered to meet and confer with affected Unions “over the effects of the Initiative and to pay the affected current and former employees represented by the Unions the difference, plus seven percent annual interest, between the compensation, including retirement benefits, the employees would have received before the Initiative became effective and the compensation the employees received after the Initiative became effective.”
2) The City is ordered, upon request by the affected Unions, to “join in and/or reimburse the Unions’ reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs for litigation undertaken to rescind the provisions of Proposition B adopted by the City, and to restore the prior status quo as it existed before the adoption of Proposition B.”
Although MEA had also argued that the 4th District Court of Appeal could and should take this additional step of invalidating Proposition B — and thereby save the parties and the Courts the time and expense of a separate litigation process — the Court concluded that a separate invalidation process (known as “quo warranto”) is more appropriate. This result was expected based on the comments and questions of the Justices during oral argument which revealed their reluctance to skip the quo warranto step and order invalidation themselves. [For those of you who would like to watch a video of that March 11 oral argument, please click HERE and skip to 2:30 (two hours and 30 minutes into the video) for the Prop B case to begin. Ann Smith, representing MEA and the other Unions involved in the case, begins her presentation at 2:52.
So the bottom line is that the month of March has been an eventful (and successful) month in the Prop B litigation for MEA-represented employees! Many of you will ask: what exactly does this mean for me? As we explained in our E-blast last week, we are finally in the late innings of this litigation process and continue to gather favorable rulings in support of the claims we have made all along. We have now definitively established that the City violated state law and acted unlawfully when putting Prop B on the ballot. We will press forward to enforce PERB’s remedy now upheld by the Court of Appeal. This includes taking the next legal steps now available to us — at the City’s expense — to seek an invalidation order so that the City’s purposeful evasion of its meet-and-confer obligations (as the CA Supreme Court concluded) is effectively remedied by restoring employees’ access to the City’s defined benefit pension plan.