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Suing The Feds Over Pension Reform

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Sacramento, CA – California has filed a lawsuit that sues the federal government in an effort to protect pension reform. In a move to defend Governor Jerry Brown’s package of pension reforms, the state of California filed a lawsuit Friday against the U.S. Department of Labor for improperly denying federal grants to California public transit providers. The suit argues the Labor Department was wrong when it concluded that the pension reforms constrain workers’ collective bargaining rights.

“Bringing this lawsuit is just another step to ensure that our pension system is viable long into the future,” said Governor Brown.

Brown proposed legislation in September to keep $1.6 billion in federal grants coming to transit districts after the U.S. Department of Labor denied grant money to the Sacramento Regional Transit District; a co-litigant in the case. The suit was filed through Caltrans, whose own federal transit grant was denied last month.

On Friday the Governor signed AB 1222 a bill authored by Assemblymembers Richard H. Bloom (D-Santa Monica) and Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento). Brown says that legislation temporarily exempts local transit agencies’ workers from the California Public Employee Pension Reform Act of 2013 to allow the state to pursue its case in court and creates a state loan program to assist transit operators that have lost federal transit grants.

Earlier this year, Governor Brown sent a letter to acting U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Seth Harris on this issue.