A Los Angeles employee relations officer delivered a stinging defeat to the city's labor leaders Thursday, saying that they failed to meet a procedural deadline for challenging a hotly contested rollback in public employee pension benefits.
Hearing Officer Luella Nelson recommended that the Employee Relations Board, a five-member panel that decides labor disputes at City Hall, dismiss a challenge to the City Council's decision to cut pension pay for employees hired after July 1.
Council members voted to scale back pension benefits and increase the retirement age in October 2012. That initiative, which applied only to new hires, was touted as a way to save the city up to $4.3 billion over 30 years. But it drew fierce opposition from the Coalition of L.A. City Unions, which argued that the council had violated city and state labor laws by approving the changes without formal labor negotiations.
Nelson's 23-page report could trigger a new legal battle over the city's pension costs. If the employee board upholds Nelson's recommendation next month, the union coalition would need to go to court to get it overturned.