The bill eventually passed the Legislature and was signed by Governor Jerry Brown, though thankfully not until some of the more outrageous union provisions in the original draft were dropped or amended. But now, with the law only a few months old, big labor is back for a second bite at the apple.
As the Sacramento Bee reports:
Two cities, Stockton and Mammoth Lakes, are now going through that ["neutral evaluation"] process. But Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, and union groups are pushing a new measure, Assembly Bill 1692, that would change the "neutral evaluation" of a locality's fiscal condition to "alternative dispute resolution" and would grant the mediator in the process more power.
The League of California Cities and other local government groups are crying foul, saying it undoes major portions of last year's compromise and gives unions a leg up in pre-bankruptcy negotiations. The City of Stockton is one opponent, telling the Assembly Local Government Committee in a letter that "these changes would dramatically increase the likelihood that mediations will be prolonged with no settlements reached."
Let there be no doubt about the rampant venality of Public Sector Inc. Even when their capacious appetites for taxpayer money have driven cities to the point of bankruptcy, all the unions can think about is what they get to salvage from the rubble.
Union officials have worried aloud that labor contracts and perhaps retirement benefits could be undone in a bankruptcy proceeding. Wieckowski told the committee that last year's compromise contained "concessions I made reluctantly."
Governor Brown, who has made some noble gestures towards pension reform, should make explicit that he will veto AB 1692 should it reach his desk. The unions should not be allowed to pick clean the bones of the cities they've destroyed.