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Judge Hands Down Ruling On San Jose Pension Reform Measure

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San Jose City Hall

San Jose City Hall (City of San Jose)

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SAN JOSE (KCBS) – Unions representing San Jose city employees and Mayor Chuck Reed claimed victory following a judge’s ruling on a pension reform measure approved by voters last year.

In a ruling handed down on Monday, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Patricia Lucas said San Jose can’t force workers to pay more for their pensions, but that the city could reduce pay to cover unfunded liabilities.

The tentative ruling stems from a lawsuit over Measure B, which called for city employees to pay more into their pensions and retiree health care plans. It was approved by voters last year, but was challenged by the unions.

One of the key findings in Lucas’ ruling on Monday is contained on page 14 of a 35-page brief.

“What she’s saying here is that the city is 100 percent responsible for any unfunded liability for the pension benefit,” said plaintiff’s attorney Christopher Platten. “The city wanted employees to put 16 percent of their pay into that fund. They don’t have to do that.”

However, Lucas did uphold other parts of Measure B.

“The judge upheld our right to make employees take a pay cut in order to cover the skyrocketing costs of retirement benefits,” Reed said. “The judge approved the voter’s change in the way disability retirements are to be determined. So, 10 out of 15 measures, the judge upheld. We didn’t get 100 percent of what we were seeking, but we got the majority of it.”

The ruling does not pertain to employees hired after June 30, 2013.

Both sides may appeal the judge’s ruling. If neither side does so within 15 days, the decision will become final.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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