Labor Relations Advocates, Colleagues & Advisors
Renne Sloan Holtzman Sakai represents employers in all facets of labor relations. Our approach melds the decades of experience of labor lawyers and non-attorney professionals, all of whom have had leadership positions in labor relations and personnel for public agencies. We are not just advocates; we are also colleagues with and advisors to labor relations and personnel professionals and their in-house attorneys in connection with labor relations, PERB processes, discipline, and grievance/arbitrations. Our negotiators have wide-ranging experience in impasse resolution procedures, such as mediation, fact-finding and interest arbitration. Throughout negotiations and impasse resolution processes, our multi-disciplinary approach utilizes financial experts, operational experts, and, if necessary, effective public relations strategies to achieve workable settlements.
Renne Sloan Holtzman Sakai’s experience spans the entire spectrum of public and non-profit employees, including police and fire personnel, teachers, nurses, lawyers, other professional employees, white-collar employees, blue-collar employees and unionized management employees.
In addition, Renne Sloan Holtzman Sakai attorneys represent private sector employers interested in a progressive approach to labor relations, including those who work with public agencies and those who are seeking regulatory approvals.
Our services include:
- Advice regarding union organizing and campaigns, “card checks,” and bargaining unit disputes
- Proceedings before PERB and the NLRB
- Unfair (labor) practice charges
- Interest arbitrations
- Grievance arbitration
- Strategy sessions with top management
- Financial issues pertinent to negotiations issues
- Structural changes in retirement and health plans
- Strategies for closures of operations and contracting out
- Responding to work stoppages and strikes, including injunctive relief proceedings
- Labor market “comparability” issues
Examples of our recent work include:
- Concessionary Negotiations: successfully handling difficult contract negotiations in multiple jurisdictions where the public agency is seeking concessions from unions.
- AB 506 Negotiations and Mediation: working collaboratively with clients, unions, bankruptcy counsel and consultants in navigating AB 506 and Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection.
- Pension/OPEB Reform: advising public agencies on the complexities of dealing with unfunded pension and OPEB liabilities, including advising on ballot initiatives.
- Fact-Finding: since the passage of AB 646 in 2012, we have handled many complex and difficult fact-finding proceedings.
- Pay Policy & Benefits Negotiations: developing strategies for effecting employer-wide changes in health benefits, pay policy and retirement benefits with multiple bargaining units simultaneously, to maintain employer-wide strategic goals while complying with good faith bargaining requirements.
- Strikes Against Health Care Agencies: responding to multiple strikes by “essential employees” in the health-care field, including seeking injunctive relief before PERB and the court.
- Police Unions Negotiations: addressing public safety emergencies by negotiating agreements with police unions regarding staffing patterns and scheduling.
- Advising Local Governments on Managing Labor Costs: working with city councils and boards of supervisors on strategies for containing labor costs.
Positive Energy and Outstanding Teamwork
In both “interest-based” and “traditional” negotiation environments, we work closely with labor organizations with a focus on collegiality and productive problem solving. We strive to: build direct and honest relationships, establish trust, work with unions to agree on “the facts,” and jointly develop options. This process helps labor and management reach the best solutions to complex problems.
Consensus & Respect
We are not “hired guns;” we are team-builders. Our practice relies on strong teamwork and communication between firm personnel, client representatives, and elected officials, mindful of the political challenges of public sector labor relations. The unique synergy between our clients and firm personnel, coupled with respect toward unions and effective communication, help assure practical, economical and successful results.
Meeting the Special Challenges of Today’s Economy
Special challenges exist in the union-friendly environment in which we work. The union bug on our business cards reflects the respect we have for the role and work of unions.
However, a vexing problem exists for the representatives of public and non-profit agencies. In addition to paying labor costs, public and non-profit agencies must also fund the non-labor costs of many essential programs, such as public safety, public health, education, safe streets and neighborhoods, libraries, public works, supporting business development, clients in need, parks, recreation and other ongoing programmatic activities. To succeed in their missions, public and non-profit employers must strike a careful balance between labor costs – including ever-increasing costs of health and retiree benefits – and the costs needed to ensure the availability of essential services.
The severe financial limitations public and non-profit employers face day-to-day – not a motive to reap a profit – is what often underpins labor management conflict and misunderstandings. Our philosophy is that a truly “progressive” approach to public service and labor relations requires an appropriate balancing between labor and non-labor costs, rather than placing undue weight on one side of the scale or the other; it contemplates careful attention to the agency’s overall financial condition, the agency’s ongoing revenue stream, and the unmet needs of the agency’s constituents.