The First Appellate District affirmed a judgment. The court held that a labor union failed to show bad faith bargaining by a municipal employer.
Prior to 2008, the City of Vallejo, under its labor agreement with the Vallejo Police Officers Association (VPOA), paid the full premium cost for retirees and employees of any medical plan offered through the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) Health Plan Services Division. In 2008, the city filed for bankruptcy. In 2009, it reached an agreement with VPOA to reduce members’ benefits from full coverage for any CalPERS plan’s insurance premiums to coverage capped at 100 percent of the cost of a Kaiser health plan. In June 2012, the city and VPOA entered into negotiations regarding an agreement to supersede the 2009 agreement. After months of discussions and negotiations, the city declared impasse in September 2013 and gave its “last, best, and final offer” to VPOA. When further negotiations were unavailing, the city unilaterally imposed some of the terms of its final offer, including cutting to $300 its payment of health insurance premiums for retirees.
VPOA filed a petition for writ of mandate alleging that the city engaged in bad faith bargaining in violation of the Myer-Milias-Brown Act (MMBA) and had unilaterally imposed contract terms that impaired VPOA members’ vested rights to retiree medical benefits. The trial court denied the petition, concluding VPOA did not show its members had a vested right to the full Kaiser premium and that the city had not bargained in bad faith; the court therefore declined to order the city to start new contract negotiations or to reinstate retirement medical benefits at the level previously provided to VPOA members.
The court of appeal affirmed, holding that the language of the 2009 agreement did not provide a vested right to a retiree medical benefit at the full Kaiser rate. Further, VPOA did not prove that convincing extrinsic evidence established that the parties intended the 2009 agreement to provide that vested right. Substantial evidence also supported the trial court’s findings that, considering the totality of the circumstances, the city did not engage in surface bargaining or rush to declare impasse. VPOA did not establish that the city violated the MMBA.