Mayor Jerry Sanders declared today that he was “done negotiating with the unions” and will attempt to have the City Council place his pension plan on the November ballot, but before he does that, he will actually have to meet with the unions again, according to state labor laws.

This is because Sanders effectively abandoned his declaration of “impasse” — which had meant that both sides are no longer able to negotiate — when he compromised Monday night at a City Council hearing and adopted the white collar union’s pension plan at the 11th hour.

The City Council rejected the mayor’s revised pension plan, and the mayor said he would try to place his pension plan on the November ballot. Before that happens, however, both the mayor and the unions must meet at the bargaining table to “meet and confer” and reach a new impasse.

“The only three outcomes [of meet and confer] are: agreement on the mayor’s proposal, some fine-tuning or negotiation on the mayor’s proposal or the third outcome is that we reach impasse and the mayor asks the council to vote in favor of the impasse and the imposition is advancing the mayor’s [pension proposal] to the ballot,” mayoral spokesman Fred Sainz said.

Local 127 of AFSCME, Municipal Employees Association and the Deputy City Attorney’s Association have been in contract talks with the mayor since January. Of the three, Local 127 has been the only union to tell the mayor that it would like to return to the bargaining table, while the other two maintain that the mayor needs to approach them if he is serious about negotiating.

San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council Political Director Evan McLaughlin predicted that this time around, the mayor would immediately declare impasse and avoid real negotiations.

“He’s going to sit down, he’s going to put whatever he wants on the table and say that’s what we’re going to the voters with. AFSCME will come back and say this is our counter-proposal, and he will declare impasse.”

The mayor has until June 20 to meet and confer with the unions, since that is the last date for the mayor to submit his proposal to the City Council docket for the last hearing before the deadline to put measures on the ballot.

“We don’t have a large window of time here and I would have anticipated,” Sanders said. “I’m left with having to move this through rather quickly in terms of both meet and confer and a ballot proposal to the council.”

Despite breaking the impasse on Monday, the mayor today reaffirmed that “we remain at impasse,” and attributed the impasse to the inability of the unions to unify around one pension proposal and the unwillingness of some to move beyond the status quo.

The mayor said he would know the details of his proposed pension plan by next week. Up until Monday, he upheld a conservative program. But his last-minute adoption of the white collar workers’ union proposal has placed his adherence to his former plan in question.


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