Big Win for SCVWD

ES/PMA/Local 21 won an arbitration against the Santa Clara Valley Water District over retirement contributions.  Arbitrator Matthew Goldberg released his decision April 21 and orders back pay with interest to employees who have erroneously been paying an extra pension contribution.  The victory comes on the heels of AFSCME's December 2013 arbitration win on the same issue.  It's also another Local 21 win in a long string of arbitrations at the District.

At issue: During MOU bargaining in 2011, ES and PMA agreed to increase pension contributions would pay the employee contribution AND 3 percent of the employer's contribution -- making the total one of the highest employee pension contribution rates in the state.  In 2012, the California State Legislature signed into law the Public Employee Pension Reform Act (PEPRA) that provided a new, lower pension benefit -- 2% at age 62 for employees hired after January 1, 2013.  The Santa Clara Valley Water District stated that employees in the PEPRA tier also had to cover the 3 percent employer portion.  We disagreed and said the extra 3 percent only applied to employees in the non-PEPRA tiers.

Local 21 Attorney Chris Platten argued the case in arbitration November 2013.  Goldberg's ruling states:  "Neither the MOU's nor PEPRA require employees hired on or after January, 1, 2013 to contribute 3 percent of their pensionable compensation towards the District's costs of the employer contribution towards pension benefits.  The District is ordered to cease and desist from requiring such contributions from these employees and deducting them from their compensation.  The employees are to be reimbursed and made whole for any such contributions made to date, together with interest at the statutory rate."  The arbitrator also decided the District had an obligation to meet and confer.

We'll keep you updated on the District's response to the decision.