San Jose Repeal of Binding Arbitration, Measure V (November 2010)

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A San Jose Repeal of Binding Arbitration ballot proposition, Measure V was on the November 2, 2010 ballot for voters in the City of San Jose in Santa Clara County.[1] It was approved.

Thirty years ago, in 1980, a public vote was held in the City of San Jose that gave the city's police and firefighter unions the right to have outside arbitrators make final decisions about contract negotiations in a process known as "binding arbitration."

Prior to the enactment of Measure V, if City officials proposed cutting the staffing levels of police and firefighters in the city, they would have to prove that these cuts pose no danger to residents. Measure V eliminates that requirement.

Election results

  • Yes: 148,368 (66.41%) Approveda
  • No: 75,038 (33.59%)

These election results are from the Santa Clara County elections division as of November 27, 2010.


According to a fact sheet prepared by the City of San Jose:

"Currently, whenever the City and one of its Police or Fire unions has an unresolved dispute over wages, hours or working conditions, the dispute must be submitted to a three person Arbitration Board, with one of the three being a neutral arbitrator appointed from a list provided by the State of California Conciliation and Mediation Service. Both sides are required to accept the decision of the outside Arbitration Board majority.

Measure V changes the arbitration procedure and also requires the Arbitration Board to prioritize factors such as the City’s ability to pay for compensation without reducing other services.

Changes in Procedure – Measure V would change the arbitration procedure as follows:

  • If the two sides cannot agree on the neutral arbitrator, then either party may request the Santa • Clara County Superior Court to appoint a retired Superior Court judge as the neutral arbitrator.
  • Arbitration hearings would be open to the public and documents submitted would be public records, unless provided otherwise by law.
  • State law governing arbitrations would apply only to the extent that they did not conflict with the Charter section that covers arbitration."


"Yes on V" television commercial

San Jose mayor Chuck Reed.[2]

San Jose City Council member Rose Herrera favors the elimination of binding arbitration because, "The patient is bleeding on the table, and the time to operate is now."[1]

Other supporters include:

  • Patricia Dando, CEO-President, San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce
  • Dr. Marc B. Liebman, School Superintendent
  • Doug McNea, Santa Clara County Taxpayers Association
  • Nanci Williams, San Jose Small Business Owner

Arguments in the official ballot pamphlet in favor of Measure V said:

"Each year, San Jose taxpayers foot the bill for an average of over $180,000 for each police officer and firefighter. Increases in pay and benefits dictated by outside arbitrators have driven up these skyrocketing costs, as have contracts negotiated under the threat of binding arbitration. Payments for retirement benefits have tripled over the last ten years, even as budget cuts have forced us to reduce our workforce by 20%.
The 2009-2010 Santa Clara County Grand Jury’s report “Cities Must Rein In Unsustainable Employee Costs,” concluded the arbitration process in San Jose “has resulted in wage and benefit decisions that have been greater than the growth in basic revenues sources.”[3]
In 2007, an outside arbitrator granted a pension increase to firefighters, many of whom now enjoy six-figure pensions. That decision created a projected unfunded liability of $30 million, borne wholly by San Jose taxpayers."


"No on Measure V" flyer
Click to enlarge

San Jose's firefighter and police unions have raised over $800,000 for their campaign to defeat Measure V.[4]

These individuals signed the official ballot arguments against Measure V:

  • Thomas Wheatley, Assistant Chief of Police, Retired
  • Juan Diaz, Fire Battalion Chief
  • Jeffery Rickets, Retired San Jose Police Sergeant
  • Richard Wardall, Fire Captain
  • Jim Shore, Advisory Board Member, Crime Victims United

Firefighter and police residency

  • 75% of San Jose's firefighters do not live in San Jose. 66% do not live in Santa Clara County. Some members of the San Jose firefighting department live in Chico, Redondo Beach, South Lake Tahoe and Idaho.[5]
  • 39% of San Jose's police live in San Jose. About 66% live in Santa Clara County. One lives in Nevada, one in Arizona, and one in Oregon.[5]

Text of measure

The question on the ballot:

Measure V: To provide fiscal stability, control costs and maintain City services to residents, shall the Charter be amended to permit binding arbitration only if outside arbitrators are (1) required to base awards to employees primarily on the City’s ability to pay; and (2) prohibited from; creating any unfunded liability for the City, increasing police and firefighter compensation more than the rate of increase in General Fund revenues, or granting retroactive benefits?[6]

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 San Jose Mercury News, "San Jose council takes aim at employee salaries, pensions," August 4, 2010
  2. Office of Mayor Chuck Reed (dead link)
  3. [ Santa Clara Grand Jury report]
  4. Mercury News, "Measure foes confront San Jose City Councilman over signs," October 23, 2010
  5. 5.0 5.1 Mercury News, "Out-of-town firefighters too far to help San Jose?," September 13, 2010
  6. Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.

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