On December 1st, San Diego City Councilmembers voted 6 to 1 in favor of hiring two lawyers from the law firm of Burke, Williams and Sorenson as lead negotiators for fiscal year 2010 city employee labor negotiation talks. The decision came after the law firm agreed to some contract concessions with the city.
Among the concessions made, the lawyers will receive no more than $400,000 dollars for their mediation services, down from an original proposal of $500,000. In addition, the lawyers also agreed to waive all billable fees associated with travel time from their Los Angeles headquarters.
Yet, despite the $100,000 reduced salary cap, the hourly rate for mediation increased ten dollars, up from $285 last year to $295 per hour for the upcoming fiscal year’s mediation.
Bill Kay and Tim Davis from Burke, Williams and Sorenson appeared at the December 1st meeting of the San Diego City Council alongside Scott Chadwick, Director of Labor Relations for the city. Chadwick explained to the council the new contract agreements and urged the council to agree to the new terms.
Incoming City Attorney, Jan Goldsmith, praised Kay’s 40 years worth of experience during comments to the city council, despite Kay’s failed negotiation attempt during the 2005 labor talks. “Mr. Kay led the successful negotiations in 2005 that would have ended the drop of purchase credits for new employees and would have saved $350 million had the operating ordinance been prepared in a timely manner.”
“We all know that labor negotiations this year will be extremely critical. I will tell you the quality of the negotiator and the council can make or break it and I think it’s smart to give ourselves every chance for success. Municipal labor negotiations require very specialized and technical expertise, that aren’t possessed except for a few people around the country.”
Goldsmith vowed to correct problems with future delays. “I’ve been meeting for the last three weeks with our lawyers and our staff, one by one, that’s 300 staff and lawyers, we’re still not getting paid, but that’s OK. But we have identified some areas that we can do better on to get contracts back to you in a timely manner.”
For more on the drive times from the law offices of Burke, Williams and Sorenson visit their website at bwslaw.com or for more information on when the new City Attorney will start getting paid go to sandiego.gov/cityattorney/.