MARTINEZ -- Contra Costa Superior Court Judge David Flinn announced he will rule by March 7 on labor unions' legal challenge of anti-spiking pension legislation signed into law in 2012.

Public employee groups in Contra Costa, Alameda and Merced counties are asking the court to overturn the new prohibition on the inclusion in the retirement formula of banked vacation, holiday, on-call and other types of pay intended to boost pension benefits. The value of the extra pay adds anywhere from 3 percent to 24 percent onto a pensioner's monthly check, depending on the agency.

Flinn has already indicated in a preliminary ruling that he intends to uphold the restriction for all public employees hired since Jan. 1, 2013 but will grandfather the perk -- subject to time limitations -- for the 21,000 employees still on the job in the three counties who expected to take advantage of the now-banned benefit. People who have already retired are not expected to lose any benefits.

Whatever the judge rules is almost certainly headed for an appeal.

The state's attorneys are arguing for an outright end to the benefit for all employees who retire on or after Jan. 1, 2013, while union lawyers are seeking a restoration of the formula for those who took the public jobs under the old rules.


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Contact Lisa Vorderbrueggen at 925-945-4773, lvorderbrueggen@bayareanewsgroup.com or Twitter.com/lvorderbrueggen.