Jon Holtzman


t: 415.678.3807
f: 415.678.3838


Jonathan V. Holtzman is a founding partner of Renne Sloan Holtzman Sakai LLP (Public Law Group®). From 2005 to the present, Mr. Holtzman has been named as a Northern California “Super Lawyer.” He frequently speaks and writes on matters pertaining to municipal bankruptcy, ballot initiatives, interest arbitration, bargaining, fact finding, comparability, fiscal analysis for bargaining, and pension and retirement medical programs.

Mr. Holtzman’s practice focuses on assisting government agencies maintain and expand public services through strategic consulting, negotiations, fact finding, arbitration and litigation. Mr. Holtzman specializes in addressing long-term structural issues relating to pensions, health benefits, retirement health benefits, civil service reform, and other means of attaining greater managerial discretion and effectiveness through collective bargaining and reorganization.

Mr. Holtzman has experience in virtually all aspects of employment law and labor relations. His labor expertise encompasses negotiations, fact finding, mediation, grievance and interest arbitration and litigation related to bargaining obligations. In addition, he practices government law, including drafting ballot and other legislative measures and initiatives, litigating issues of constitutional and statutory interpretation, and electoral matters.

Prior to entering private practice, Mr. Holtzman served as Director of Labor and Policy in the office of San Francisco Mayor Willie L. Brown, Jr. His duties included serving as the chief labor negotiator for the Mayor. As a senior advisor to the Mayor, Mr. Holtzman oversaw the management of city employment and benefits issues.

He also helped craft major policy initiatives including the city’s living wage law, civil service reforms, and criminal justice initiatives.

Before working directly for Mayor Brown, Mr. Holtzman was San Francisco’s Chief Deputy City Attorney. He was a principal architect of the City Attorney’s nationally recognized affirmative litigation program, which brought together groups of local government and non-profit plaintiffs to seek court-ordered reform of unfair business practices by energy producers, tobacco companies, national banks, gun manufacturers, auto insurers, and escrow companies. He also served as counsel defending San Francisco’s affirmative action programs in a series of lawsuits arising under Proposition 209, including San Francisco’s challenges to the proposition in both state and federal courts.

Before his appointment as Chief Deputy City Attorney, Mr. Holtzman was the City’s chief labor and employment attorney. In that role he served as a chief negotiator in labor negotiations and interest arbitration with the City’s 47 unions, acted as lead counsel in lawsuits, writs, class actions, and appeals involving all facets of labor and employment law.

Mr. Holtzman managed the City’s transition to collective bargaining and interest arbitration and drafted attendant charter and civil service reform measures. On behalf of three mayoral administrations and numerous boards of supervisors, he has authored and negotiated more than a dozen labor-related charter amendments adopted by the voters since 1988.

Mr. Holtzman has been extensively involved in efforts to improve government effectiveness. He negotiated and drafted a 1999 ballot measure reforming the governance of the City’s municipal transit system and making it a quasi-independent agency, and, more recently, Proposition G, which overhauled MUNI’s system of negotiation with unions. He also drafted a 2002 ballot measure enhancing the authority of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, and a 2003 ballot measure requiring the City Controller to conduct “benchmarking” studies of City services, as well as performance audits to improve government effectiveness. Before joining the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office, Mr. Holtzman was an associate at Morrison & Foerster for four years, focusing primarily on employment class actions.

Mr. Holtzman graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Haverford College in Pennsylvania in 1978, with honors in political science. He attended Stanford Law School, graduating in 1981. During law school he was a clerk for the Washington, D.C. Center for Law and Social Policy and for the Washington D.C. firm founded by former Defense Secretary Clark Clifford and disarmament negotiator Paul Warnke. Upon graduation he clerked for California Supreme Court Associate Justice Otto Kaus for two years.

 Selected Presentations and Publications

  • Rutter Group: California Practice Guide, Public Sector Employment Litigation (2013)
  • Mr. Holtzman is a monthly contributor to the California Employment Law Letter and has written over 16 articles for the publication.
  • Declarations of Fiscal Emergency: A Resurging Option for Public Entities Attempting to Deal With The Current Economic Climate, California Public Law Journal, Vol. 34, No. 1, Winter 2011
  • Does Labor Law Prevent Voter Initiatives To Control Pensions? The Coming Fight Between Core Democratic Principles and Traditional Labor Negotiation in the Public Sector, Bender’s California Labor & Employment Bulletin, Vol. 2012, No. 10, October 2010

Representative Published Decisions

  • Fazio v. City and County of San Francisco, 125 F.3d 1238 (9th Cir. 1977), holding that assistant district attorney is a policymaker who can be dismissed due to speech critical of DA
  • Stewart v. City and County of San Francisco, 834 F.Supp. 1223 (N.D.Cal. 1993), first case to hold Department of Labor’s 1954 “salary basis test” invalid as applied to public employers, eliminating large FLSA liability
  • Service Employees International Union Local 102 v. County of San Diego, 60 F.3d 1346 (9th Cir. 1994), adopting San Francisco’s argument that federal “salary basis test” cannot lawfully be applied to government employers
  • United Farm Workers of America v. Agricultural Labor Relations Board, 41 Cal.App.4th 303 (1995), and a related case against San Francisco, holding that the California Table Grapes Council lacked authority to sue the union and the city on behalf of growers
  • United Association of Journeymen v. City and County of San Francisco, 32 Cal.App.4th 751 (1995), upholding $60 million wage freeze under San Francisco charter
  • Retired Employees Association of Orange County v. County of Orange, 52 Cal.4th 1171 (2011)

Practice Areas

Employment Law & Litigation
Government Law & Litigation
Labor Relations & Labor Law


Stanford School of Law, JD

Haverford College, BA

Bar Admission