Beeson, Tayer & Bodine files amicus brief on behalf of Peace Officers Research Association of California (“PORAC”) and PORAC Legal Defense Fund
July 24, 2014 by Teague Paterson
Beeson, Tayer and Bodine (BT&B) has filed an amicus brief on behalf of PORAC in an important case that tests the protections afforded collective bargaining agreements under the California Constitution’s contract clause. The case involves the California Legislature’s adoption of the Public Employees Pension Reform Act of 2012 (“PEPRA”) and what the trial court interpreted as that law’s mandate to require local government employers to abridge negotiated collective bargaining agreements that provide for greater retirement security than the level PEPRA has established for “new employees.” A copy of the amicus brief, urging reversal of the trial court’s ruling, is available here.
In Deputy Sheriffs’ Association of San Diego County v. County of San Diego, the trial court ruled that PEPRA permitted the county to reduce the bargained-for pension benefits set forth in its collective bargaining agreement with the Deputy Sheriffs Association for “future employees” because such employees have no “vested right” to a pension benefit before they commence work. PORAC, in support of appellant the San Diego Deputy Sheriff’s Association, argues in its amicus brief the following points.
- Settled state and federal law affords constitutional protection to collective bargaining agreements during their term.
- There is no sound basis to treat negotiated retirement benefits differently under the contract clause than any other form of compensation entailing a mandatory subject of bargaining.
- The trial court’s distinction between “current” and “future” employees is a distinction without a difference when analyzed under the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act and other state and federal labor law.
- The trial court erred by finding that the Legislature retains authority over setting pension levels despite its previous, explicit statutory requirement that local employers must bargain and negotiate over pension benefits — and other mandatory subjects of bargaining — and reduce their agreements to binding written contracts.
BT&B’s California labor law practice with offices in Oakland and Sacramento is active in supporting and defending the rights of unions and the collective bargaining process at the foundation of effective labor relations, the contract that captures the negotiated agreements between management and labor. In filing this amicus brief we are urging the Court of Appeals to protect that basic right. To review other recent activity on the behalf of unions and employees, visit the BT&B newsletter for noteworthy labor and employment law cases.
This case is Deputy Sheriffs’ Association of San Diego County v. County of San Diego, No. D065364 (4th District Ct. of Appeals, Division 1).
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