San Bernardino Middle Managers Seek to Sue Over Pensions

Midlevel San Bernardino, California, officials asked a judge to let them sue the insolvent city, claiming it is abusing federal bankruptcy rules to bypass labor laws and force concessions on workers.

The union representing about 54 public employees claims the city made a token attempt to negotiate before imposing cuts to the workers’ pension and other changes to their labor contract.

“The city has engaged in surface bargaining by ‘going through the motions’” the San Bernardino Public Employees Association said today in court papers filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Riverside, California. The group asked the judge overseeing the city’s bankruptcy to allow it to file a case against the city with the Public Employment Relations Board.

The union represents mid-management city workers.

San Bernardino, a city of about 213,000 people about 60 miles (97 kilometers) east of Los Angeles, filed bankruptcy on Aug. 1. Since then it has fought with its unions to cut costs and with the California Public Employees’ Retirement System to reduce pension payments.

The city says it’s so strapped for cash that it must put off $13 million in payments to Calpers or risk public safety.

The case is In re San Bernardino, 12-28006, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Central District of California (Riverside).

To contact the reporter on this story: Steven Church in Wilmington, Delaware, at schurch3@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Pickering at jpickering@bloomberg.net.

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