Monday, May 20, 2013

Court Rules Pension Impairments Unconstitutional Under Contract Clause

In a major ruling with statewide implications, the Monterey Superior Court ruled Friday that the City of Pacific Grove’s 2010 voter initiative and charter amendment capping the City’s contributions to CalPERS are unconstitutional. The Court’s ruling follows a challenge to the measures brought by the Pacific Grove Police Officers Association and Pacific Grove Police Management Association and supported by PORAC LDF. The Court also ruled that the measures violated the City Charter and the general law because voters cannot set employee compensation by initiative.

According to Pacific Grove Police Officers Association President Jeff Fenton, “Today’s ruling is about fairness. We went to court to ensure the City keeps the promises it made to employees and today the court said they have to.” The Court struck down the ordinance and charter amendment because they violate the Contract Clause of the California Constitution. The Contract Clause requires local governments to keep the promises they make to public employees. It also forbids them from impairing contracts with labor associations.

The case has major implications statewide because it establishes that cities and counties can’t go back on the pension promises they made to employees.  PORAC LDF contributed significant resources toward the police officers’ efforts. “We are deeply thankful for the help from our brothers and sisters in the law enforcement community and PORAC LDF toward achieving this victory,” Fenton said.

The Pacific Grove Police Officers Association and Police Management Association were represented by Mastagni Law attorney Jeffrey R. A. Edwards in the matter.