Court denied Vallejo police union’s claim of full health benefits

A Solano County judge denied the Vallejo police union’s claim that it has a “vested right’ to fully paid retiree medical benefits, based on previous labor agreements, and that the City of Vallejo “engaged in surface bargaining.”

In a court decision issued Monday, Superior Judge Paul Beeman said that based on the 2009 agreement between the city and the Vallejo Police Officers Association, the association has not “met its heavy burden” of making a “clear showing” that the city intended to provide medical benefits at the full amount.

Beeman also said there’s an “insufficient basis for concluding that the city engaged in “surface bargaining,” or “rushed to declare impasse.”

The lawsuit centered over cuts to health benefits imposed as part of the city’s plan to exit bankruptcy. At stake was tens of millions of dollars in potential retiree medical liabilities.

The long legal battle is rooted in negotiations between the city and the police union during and after the bankruptcy filing.

Part of the plan for maintaining fiscal stability was reducing contributions to employee and retiree health plan premiums to $300 a month.

In 2009, the union’s proposal for the city to pay 100 percent of the health premium forever was rejected by the city.

According to the city, the agreed contact made no promises regarding retiree health benefits after the contract’s expiration date on June 30, 2012.

On Dec. 16, 2013, the council voted to impose some of the city’s final offer, including the $300 per month cap on health benefits.