Tuesday, September 2, 2014     Volume: 29, Issue: 5
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SLO City Council votes to appeal binding arbitration decision

BY COLIN RIGLEY

The San Luis Obispo City Council voted unanimously to appeal a decision by the Public Employment Relations Board that would have undone the 2011 ballot initiative Measure B.

City Attorney Christine Dietrick announced the decision following a March 10 closed session, during which she informed councilmembers and a gathering of residents that the city had a number of options following an administrative law judge ruling earlier this year. According to Dietrick, the judge ruled in favor of the city and found no violations in implementing Measure A, but that Measure B did violate state “meet and consult” rules. Measure B, enacted by SLO voters in 2011, repealed binding arbitration with public safety employees.

Measures A and B were both passed with more than 70 percent approval. The measures undid binding arbitration rules, a contentious practice between the city and its labor organizations that was criticized for giving too much negotiating power to labor groups and draining city coffers.

Dietrick told councilmembers that they had a number of options, the first of which is to appeal the decision. Accepting the ruling, she said, could put SLO in further trouble because it would require the city to modify its charter, which is an action solely relegated to voters.

Before the decision, a number of residents spoke in favor of an appeal and asked that the city uphold the will of voters. One resident called the PERB decision a “bold faced insult to our city,” a sentiment that was echoed by everyone who spoke.

In order to go forward with the appeal, city councilmembers authorized staffers to spend as much as $10,000 from the general fund.