Latest update on AB 1222, bill designed to ensure Metro and other agencies can continue to receive federal funding

Long story short: The U.S. Department of Labor says that California’s pension reform (known as PEPRA) violates the collective bargaining rights of transit workers. Therefore, transit agencies such as Metro are ineligible to receive billions in federal funding.

A bill is working its way through the Legislature — it cleared the Senate on Friday — that would exempt transit workers from pension reform and clear the way for the state and the Department of Labor to resolve the issue in federal court.

Here’s the latest update from Metro’s government relations team:

PEPRA/13(C) Update

AB 1222 (Bloom) will be considered tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. in the Assembly Public Employment and Retirement Committee. Metro’s advocacy team is prepared to speak in support of the measure at the hearing. The language of the bill includes a provision which establishes the timeframe for the duration of the exemption. The bill states that the exemption will be in place until either the federal district court decision or January 1, 2015, whichever is sooner. This means that should the court case take longer than expected, it may be necessary to extend the exemption in next year’s legislative session. Staff will continue to work very closely with the Governor’s office and legislative leadership as the litigation proceeds and we will be prepared to work toward an extension next year should one be required. Metro Board Chair Diane DuBois today transmitted the attached letter supporting AB 1222

3 replies

  1. 13c is a fairly obscure aspect of transportation policy even among activists. I had heard of it in various contexts over the years but had never in my wildest imaginings conceived it could ever be the impetus of news story getting mass media attention.

  2. So the way I read it, it’s says “transit workers will continue to get their pensions despite the dire need for state pension reform to help our budget problems, but since Sacramento is too stupid to figure it out, we’ll continue to pay out pensions that we can’t pay until the courts decide?”

    Man, politicians in this state can’t do anything! We elected them to fix the public employee unions’ pension problem once and for all, not hide these problems under the rug!

    • Hi P Hunter;

      In this case, I don’t think anything is being hidden under a rug.

      The state Legislature approved pension reform and the Governor signed it.

      The transit workers’ union complained to the U.S. Labor Department and Labor Secretary Thomas Perez agreed with them that their collective bargaining rights were violated under the Federal Transit Act, which dates back to the 1960s. Some people say the provision in dispute was intended in the ’60s to protect the bargaining rights of drivers of private transit companies being converted to public agencies.

      The state is doing what it must: exempt the workers for now in order to continue the flow of federal funds. Metro alone has $3.6 billion to lose, including funds to help build Measure R projects such as Regional Connector and Purple Line Extension. Losing that money would be a crime and this bill seems to be the best solution for now.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source