Judge Melinda Reed ruled Friday that the City of Visalia had no further obligation under the Meyers Milias Brown Act to hear proposals from the local police bargaining unit, even though the City has reserves of $34 million, $20 million of which the City claims is already earmarked. The police argued unsuccessfully that reserves should be used to fill any budget shortfall instead of unilaterally imposing paycuts.
Unfortunately for the bargaining unit, Judge Reed did not see that the City had such an obligation under the MMBA. It is clear that the City has no duty to come to an agreement with the police unit, or spent dollars the way the police unit demands; the MMBA only requires that the two sides come to the table and negotiate in good faith.
I have not seen the ruling, but presumably, the issue was brought on a writ of mandate by the police unit, appealing the Public Employee Relations Board decision that the City had not violated their duties under the MMBA.
Obviously this is good news for any city which has substantial reserves and is looking to balance their budget through payroll reductions.