Yesterday the Orange County Board of Supervisors voted to impose their last contract offer upon the county attorneys bargaining unit after the union rejected the proposal. For the past year the county has been negotiating with all bargaining groups representing county employees. The major sticking point has been the desire of the Board that managers and attorneys start paying the employee share of their pension contributions previously picked up by the county.
Voice of OC reports:
The county’s nearly 500 public attorneys, a move that was immediately met with a lawsuit threat from the union that represents the lawyers.
“You know we’re going to sue you,” said Scott Van Camp, a leader of the Orange County Attorney’s Association, which includes attorneys from the district attorney, public defender and county counsel offices. The union has already filed an unfair labor practice action against the county.
Van Camp and other union attorneys argued that the board is violating a recently enacted California pension law by imposing higher pension contributions in a labor negotiation. County negotiators disagreed, saying supervisors can still impose terms.
The Orange County Register reports:
Before the vote, Larry Yellin, a veteran homicide prosecutor in the District Attorney’s Office, warned the supervisors that the union would sue, claiming the imposition of higher pension contributions is illegal under Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2012 pension reform law.
Yellin cited a section of the law that says counties must wait until 2018 before implementing a requirement that unionized employees pay 50 percent of the normal costs of their pensions, and then only after exhausting a good-faith bargaining process. Normal costs are calculated on the assumption that the county’s retirement fund will hit its targeted investment returns.
Bruce Barsook, an outside attorney hired by the county to negotiate with many of its unions, countered Yellin by pointing to another paragraph of the same section that says “nothing in this section shall modify a board of supervisors’ … authority under law … to change the amount of member contributions.”
Under the terms imposed by supervisors, the attorneys will pay an average of an additional 7 percent of salary toward pensions, Yellin said in an interview. He said the new requirement would cost him about $9,500 annually.