gavel

By Ryan Hagen, The Sun
Posted: 03/17/15, 2:59 PM PDT

RIVERSIDE >> A federal judge in San Bernardino’s bankruptcy case ruled Tuesday that the city can reject its bargaining agreement with the city’s police union.

The city first asked for the power to reject the agreement in March 2013, so that it could impose a new contract that would leave more money in its coffers as it struggles to put together a workable post-bankruptcy budget — and less money, by extension, in police officers’ paychecks.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Meredith Jury said she was not deciding whether the city may legally make union members pay part of their pension costs. San Bernardino Police Officers Association attorney Ron Oliner contends that such “cost-sharing” violates state law and said the union intends to press “substantial” claims for rejection damages and an administrative claim.

Tuesday’s decision mirrors Jury’s September ruling that the city could reject its contract with firefighters. Jury explicitly said then that she was not blessing the city’s plan to impose a contract on firefighters to replace the one she was rejecting.

But a month later, Mayor Carey Davis broke a City Council tie to impose a contract on the fire union, which is suing the city on several related fronts.

In a filing arguing for Tuesday’s decision, the city says that five of its seven unions agreed to “modifications” including paying half of the cost of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, with the fire and police unions resisting.

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