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Judge Rules Pension Reform Will Be On Ballot

The state Public Employment Relations Board will not be able to take action against an initiative to reform the city of San Diego's pension system until after it has been voted on, the City Attorney's Office announced Wednesday.

Judge Luis Vargas granted the city's motions to quash subpoenas issued previously by an administrative law judge and delay any PERB administrative proceedings, pending a June 22 status conference -- 17 days after the election.

City labor leaders went to the agency last month in an effort to get Proposition B removed from the ballot. While the board has sided with the unions, Vargas became the second judge to rule in favor of the city in the dispute.

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Area labor leaders contend that the initiative, which would offer 401(k) plans to most new employees instead of enrolling them in the debt-ridden pension system, is essentially a city-sponsored measure since its chief backers include Mayor Jerry Sanders and Councilman Carl DeMaio.

If so, that would require the city to negotiate the contents of the measure with the six labor groups that represent San Diego municipal workers.

Backers of Proposition B, which would also figure only base compensation over the next five years into the eventual retirement pay of workers, say it is the product of private citizens, which does not require discussions with labor in advance of the election.

Both sides agree that if the measure passes, the unions will need to be consulted regarding implementation of the new rules.

Another effort to have the measure taken off the ballot, by a civic activist who claimed it violated the City Charter, was also rejected by a judge in a ruling issued last month.

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