Recently when San Diego City Firefighters Local 145 began contract negotiations, the usual discussion of confidentiality came up. Local 145 was asked to agree to confidentiality and to not discuss the particulars of the bargaining sessions. We declined. Here’s why.

1. The city wanted us to agree to confidentiality … but the city would not. Yes, you read that properly. The city’s negotiation team said they could not hold the City Attorney’s Office to a confidentiality agreement, and therefore, not the city. A confidentiality agreement needs to include both parties or you have no promise of confidentiality!

2. We think the public needs to see the sausage being made. We all know people behave differently when they know others are watching. Local 145’s representatives don’t do anything at the bargaining table we are afraid to share.

3. Confidentiality gives politicians and bureaucrats cover. If the public never knows where proposals come from and who makes them and advocates for them behind closed doors, they never really know who to thank or blame.

The mantra at city hall for a year now has been all about reform and transparency. We think that should extend to negotiations of labor contracts.


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