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April 22, 2014 > City of Milpitas prevails on lawsuit

City of Milpitas prevails on lawsuit

Submitted By Susan Barrett

In a decision from the Superior Court of Santa Clara County, the Honorable William J. Elfving, Judge Presiding, ruled in favor of the City of Milpitas in a contentious lawsuit filed by Wylie, McBride, Platten & Renner on behalf of Firefighters Local 1699 seeking firefighter back pay and an order forcing the City to cease deducting payments from firefighters for retirement benefits.

In 2011, the City of Milpitas and Firefighters Local 1699 agreed that the City could deduct seven (7) percent from firefighter wages in order to partially pay for firefighter retirement benefits. The concession was necessary in order for the City to offset revenue shortfalls resulting from the Great Recession beginning in 2009. The seven percent has been deducted, as agreed, from that time until the present. Almost throughout, the parties have been in negotiations over a successor to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Union and the City governing the employment of firefighters with the City of Milpitas.

Firefighters Local 1699 filed suit on June 19, 2013, claiming the seven percent deduction should have ceased in June of 2012, and that the firefighters should be reimbursed for deductions made after that date until the present time. The City contended that the seven percent deduction, along with all other general provisions of the Memorandum of Understanding, by law must be retained so long as the parties were still negotiating a new contract.

The Court agreed with the City, holding that Ò[T]he court concludes that the seven percent cost-sharing contribution continues during negotiations for a successor MOU.Ó In doing so the Court denied Local 1699Õs request for a Writ of Mandate.

City Manager Tom Williams announced: ÒThe City is very pleased by the CourtÕs decision. It serves to validate our actions taken to address a very serious budget issue faced by the City at that time. As we move forward, we hope to achieve accord with the union on these and other terms of a new MOU that is fair and beneficial to all interested parties.Ó

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