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White-collar workers pissed about Goldsmith’s DROP memo

June 2, 2009 - 5:03 pm

The Municipal Employees Association (MEA), San Diego’s largest public employees union, is not at all pleased with the idea that the DROP program may not be legally valid.

“Any change in the DROP benefit is unlawful—period,” wrote MEA attorney Ann Smith in a letter to the city’s Human Resources Department (emphasis hers).

Mayor Jerry Sanders has been trying to eliminate or reduce the DROP benefits for months as a means to ease the city’s budget deficit. In a memo released earlier today, Goldsmith opined that a majority of city workers had not technically approved their benefits package back in 1996, and, as such, the program is legally invalid, which in turn implies that the program could be altered or eliminated by the mayor and City Council.

Smith met with Goldsmith this morning, where she, it would appear, rather strenuously disagreed with his interpretation of the law. Here’s more from her letter:

The City’s defiance in making a change despite facts and the law will not only break the law, but will also represent an insult to every hard-working MEA-represented employee who recently participated in a difficult process to with this City wherein they agreed to ‘share the pain’ in these tough economic times. The City’s decision to create fear and trauma for these employees on the flimsy ‘gotcha’ analysis presented today is unforgivable and irresponsible.

The letter then demands that the city issue a letter by 5 p.m. today declaring that it will demand that SDCERS continue to implement DROP as it has in the past, and it details the laws and agreements Smith believes the city would be violating if it fails to do so. The “or else” implied by the letter is left unnamed. Readers may recall Smith as the union attorney who vanquished former City Attorney Mike Aguirre in court on several occasions.

In a press conference this afternoon, Goldsmith went to great pains to avoid suggesting that the 12 years of DROP are in some way null and void, and even said that if the retirement board disagreed with his assessment, he would “not be insulted.”

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