City Attorney Jan Goldsmith will talk to reporters tomorrow about his office’s recent legal memo spelling out procedures for an impasse hearing, which I wrote about earlier this month. Goldsmith had refused to talk about the memo for the story.

The procedure outlined in the memo would shift power during labor negotiations away from the mayor and toward the City Council by allowing the council to send the mayor and unions back to the bargaining table with an alternative proposal. Goldsmith’s predecessor, Mike Aguirre, had said council members had to accept or reject the mayor’s entire proposal.

Goldsmith’s press release references a 2008 ruling by the Public Relations Employee Board that found that the city violated its impasse procedures in implementing the mayor’s outsourcing initiative.

Here is Goldsmith’s statement:

The San Diego City Attorney’s Office presented a Memorandum of Law (MOL) to the Mayor and City Council Members outlining the legally mandated impasse procedures for resolution of disputes between the City of San Diego and its recognized Employee Organizations.

Last summer, Judge Thomas Allen ruled that the City violated Policy 300-06 and the City Attorney’s office was wrong when it concluded that Policy 300-06 does not have to be followed due to the new strong mayor form of government. As a result, the City was thwarted in pursuing its managed competition plan.

“Negotiations should be based on bargaining and not an endless line of lawsuits,” stated City Attorney Jan Goldsmith. “The best way to avoid litigation is to obey the law. State labor law requires us to follow our own rules in negotiations and we have outlined in detail those rules to ensure that we comply with the law.”

The City Attorneys opinion, as stated in the MOL, enforces Policy 300-06, which provides that its purpose is to promote full communication by providing a reasonable method of resolving disputes. When there is an impasse, the City Council is empowered to “resolve” the issue after a hearing on the merits of the dispute.

“The important advice is to follow what the law says and not what you may want it to say,” stated City Attorney Goldsmith. “The word ‘resolve’ means ‘resolve’.”


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