Steven M. Berliner

Steven M. Berliner Partner

Steve is the Chair of the firm's Retirement, Health and Disability Practice Group and works to ensure that our firm stays on the cutting edge of the law related to these important areas. He has an extensive labor relations practice and unparalleled retirement law expertise. Steve has acted as chief negotiator for many public agencies in labor negotiations with their employee groups, helping them reduce payroll and other costs. He also advises clients on contract interpretation issues and represents clients in grievance matters and is frequently called on to assist agencies in times of fiscal crisis.

Of particular importance to many agencies is reducing pension and retiree medical costs. Steve has successfully negotiated changes to agencies' arrangements with public employees that resulted in employees paying a greater share of the cost for these benefits and other cost savings. Steve is a prolific speaker and speaks at conferences throughout the state on public retirement issues. 

Steve has renowned expertise in the area of public agency retirement laws and vested rights. His extensive experience allows him to be ahead of the curve in spotting issues and trends in retirement law. This experience and his ability to describe issues in plain language helps clients plan and budget for changes.  Steve also litigates retirement issues on behalf of our clients. Whether its an administrative appeal of a CalPERS audit finding, or a lawsuit related to vested benefits, retiree medical benefits or any other retirement related matter. Steve brings his extensive knowledge and experience to each case.

Steve also represents clients in a wide range of legal proceedings, including writs, breach of contract, the Fair Labor Standards Act, and before the Public Employment Relations Board. 

Education

  • JD, University of California, Los Angeles School of Law

  • BA, State University of New York at Binghamton

LITIGATION

San Bernardino County of Public Attorneys Association (SBCPAA) v. County of San Bernardino, et. al. (2014) - Successfully defended the County of San Bernardino against SBCPAA's challenge to the County, eliminating its pick-up of a portion of the employees' contribution to the retirement system. SBCPAA argued that a statute enacted as part of the PEPRA actually required the County to continue the pick-ups absent the employees' agreement to a change in the employer contribution.

Neustadter v. CalPERS, et al. (2013) - In this case, Steve defended a lawsuit brought by a former local agency employee against CalPERS and the agency, that sought to compel higher retirement benefits through CalPERS or for the agency to pay the difference if CalPERS was determined to not be responsible for the payment. Steve successfully argued that the benefits currently being provided were correct and the agency had no further liability to the former employee.

Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, a Division of the Rail Conference, International Brotherhood of Teamsters; Glenn William Steele v. Southern California Regional Rail Authority, d/b/a Metrolink (2011) - In a case handled by Steve Berliner and James Oldendorph of Liebert Cassidy Whitmore's Los Angeles office, the Los Angeles County Superior Court ruled that Metrolink's installation and operation of an audio and video monitoring system in the cabs of Metrolink locomotives did not violate the locomotive engineers' privacy rights, due process rights, and that the actions were not preempted by state law.  The union for the engineers that operate the locomotives, and one individual engineer, had sued Metrolink seeking declaratory and injunctive relief, arguing that the engineers had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the cabs of the locomotives and that Metrolink's monitoring system violated their procedural and substantive due process rights.  They also claimed that the installation of the cameras and the policy adopted to govern their use were preempted by state law. The Court granted Metrolink's motion for summary judgment on all of Plaintiffs' causes of action, finding that there were no issues of material fact warranting a trial.  This ruling resulted in a victory for Metrolink on all claims.

NEGOTIATIONS

City of Carlsbad - Safety and Non-Safety Units.

City of El Cajon - Safety and Non-Safety Units.

City of La Mesa - Safety and Non-Safety Units.

City of Fullerton - Safety Units.

City of Port Hueneme - Safety Units.

City of Rancho Cucamonga - Non-Safety Units.

City of Murrieta - Safety and Non-Safety Units.

City of South Pasadena - Safety and Non-Safety Units.

City of Oceanside - Safety Units.

Joshua Basin Water District - Non-Safety Unit.

City of Encinitas - Safety and Non-Safety Units.

City of Redondo Beach - Served on Factfinding Panel.

City of Port Hueneme - Served on Factfinding Panel.

Kern County - Presented Case to Factfinding Panel.

City of Hesperia - Served on Factfinding Panel.

City of El Cajon - Served on Factfinding Panel.

 

Education

  • JD, University of California, Los Angeles School of Law

  • BA, State University of New York at Binghamton

Awarded Top 75 Labor & Employment Lawyers, Daily Journal

Awarded Top 25 Municipal Law Attorneys, Daily Journal

Education

  • JD, University of California, Los Angeles School of Law

  • BA, State University of New York at Binghamton

Aug 24, 2018

Strategies to Manage Increasing Pension Costs

Steven M. Berliner published “Strategies to Manage Increasing Pension Costs” in the August 2018 issue of the League of California Cities magazine – Western City.

 In California, increasing pension costs are already starting to crowd out any discretionary spending for many cities. Recent news from the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) offers little hope for relief for agencies that contract with CalPERS. Changes in the actuarial assumptions used by CalPERS in the past few years will lead to even higher employer rates over the next few years. One significant change is the reduction in CalPERS’ “discount rate” (the assumed investment rate of return) from 7.5 percent to 7 percent, meaning that to pay for a defined benefit, employers must contribute more to the fund. Other changes are having similar impacts. 

Feb 4, 2015

Effect of Retirement Costs on Negotiations

In these monthly videos, members of LCW’s Labor Relations and Negotiations Services practice group will provide various tips that can be implemented at your bargaining tables. 

Jul 16, 2014 Press Release

Three LCW Partners Have Been Named "Top Labor & Employment Lawyers" by the Daily Journal

Three LCW Partners have been selected to the list of "Top Labor & Employm...

Sep 30, 2013 Press Release

Education

  • JD, University of California, Los Angeles School of Law

  • BA, State University of New York at Binghamton

10 January 2019
Speaking Engagements

Strategies to Manage Increasing Pension Costs

California Society of Municipal Finance Officers (CSMFO) Annual Conference Palm Springs
Read more
5 December 2018
Speaking Engagements

Splitting The Check: Having Employees Pay More Toward Increasing Pension And Retiree Health Costs, And Other Cost Saving Strategies

California Public Employer Labor Relations Association (CALPELRA) Annual Conference Monterey
Read more
20 September 2018
Speaking Engagements

The Top 10 Things You Can Do Now to Avoid Problems with CalPERS

Southern California Public Labor Relations Council (SCPLRC) Meeting Cerritos
Read more
13 September 2018
Speaking Engagements

Strategies to Manage Increasing Pension Costs

League of California Cities 2018 Annual Conference Long Beach
Read more

Education

  • JD, University of California, Los Angeles School of Law

  • BA, State University of New York at Binghamton

Contact Us

General Inquiries

info@lcwlegal.com

Contact a Specific Office

Our Locations

Media Inquiries

Please contact Cynthia Weldon, Director of Marketing & Training, 310.981.2000.

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