CA Judge Invalidates Union President Pension Benefit

December 18, 2009 ( California state judge has struck down a San Diego city pension benefit that allowed union presidents to tack their union salaries onto their city salaries for benefit calculation purposes.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that Superior Court Judge Timothy Taylor issued the ruling in a suit filed by the former presidents of the San Diego Police Officers Association after city officials ended the benefit calculation system earlier this year.

According to the news report, Taylor ruled that the benefit was invalid because the City Council did not comply with the city charter when it unanimously adopted a resolution approving it in 2002. Taylor said the measure was not official because the council did not adopt a formal ordinance putting it into place.

Without that, there was no “valid, enforceable contract” that the city is obligated to follow, he wrote.

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said the principles Taylor laid out could have broader application.

“Although helpful, this decision is not a silver bullet that allows the city to roll back vested pension rights,” Goldsmith said in a statement. “It allows us to carefully review individual benefits granted over the years and assess their legality with some direction as to judicial reasoning.”