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Council May Hire Outside Labor Negotiator

A proposal coming to the Piedmont City Council tonight calls for hiring a third-party labor negotiator, rather than having senior city staff handle contract negotiations with unions representing municipal employees.

The Piedmont City Council tonight will consider a plan to hire an outside negotiator to handle contract talks with unions representing municipal employees.

Finance Director Mark Bichsel and City Administrator Geoffrey Grote recommend hiring Janae Novotny, a partner with the law firm Burke, Williams & Sorensen, LLP, to negotiate all labor contracts during 2013 and 2014. Tonight's action would appropriate $50,000 for Novotny's services.

City Attorney Thomas Curry is also an attorney with Burke, Williams & Sorenson.

Although the City of Piedmont has used third-party labor negotiators in the past, in recent years Grote and Bichsel have represented the city in contract talks.

The council meets at 7:30 tonight in the City Hall council chambers, 120 Vista Ave. The meeting agenda and a staff report on the labor negotiator proposal are attached.

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Tim Rood December 03, 2012 at 04:04 PM
This is a long-overdue and welcome development. I was the only Council candidate to advocate third-party negotiation of labor contracts in the February 2012 election, which I lost by less than one-half of one percent. I hope the Council will move ahead with this to remove the conflict of interest inherent in having staff negotiate their own contracts. PUSD has been doing this for years and has successfully addressed its long term benefit liabilities.
mmadden December 04, 2012 at 01:41 AM
Tim is right, its time for third-party negotiation of labor contracts.
garrett Keating December 04, 2012 at 08:27 PM
Third-party negotiation is needed but a more important question is what will be on the table. Both the MTRC and BAFP Committees recommended capping employee pension and benefit costs going forward but that does not address the $40M pension liability Piedmont faces today. To what extent can future contract terms be shaped to address this liability? Should employees, deserving as they may be, receive raises when the city does not have adequate funds to pay the pensions associated with those salaries? What are sustainable staffing levels for public safety? If a parcel tax increase will be needed, should it not be implemented sooner that later so service recipients these past 10 years (when pension/benefits skyrocketed) chip in to help pay off the liability? A majority of Piedmonters recently endorsed their city services through renewal of the parcel tax - hopefully they will be just as vocal in the coming year as City Council figures out how to pay for those services.

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