Sunday, January 18, 2015

Open the doors on closed-session pay talks

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Marin Independent Journal


Marin IJ Readers Forum   for Jan. 17

Marin Independent Journal
POSTED:   1/16/2015

Open the doors on closed-session pay talks
Dick Spotswood's Jan. 14 column regarding the secretive process that is the fossilized standard for labor negotiations was repeated by our county's Board of Supervisors on Jan. 13.
Item 16 on the Board of Supervisors' agenda was: Closed Session: Instructions to labor negotiator (Human Resources Director) regarding negotiations with various unions representing virtually all of the county's employees.
The supervisors completed Item 15 during the morning session, which was videoed and adjourned at noon
Upon reconvening at 2:30 p.m. (the video, if any, not posted), according to the assistant clerk of the board, the results of the closed session, Item 16, were announced as: "Instructions were given to the labor negotiator."
That's all. No details.

Those who pay the bills had no input and evidently don't deserve to know.
Spotswood's opinion that the public is shut out of almost every aspect of the process was confirmed yet again. 
Considering Marin's massive unfunded pension and retiree health care liabilities, the only responsible approach towards labor negotiations is to conduct them in a transparent manner.
Last year, the Southern California city of Costa Mesa finalized its labor agreement with non-safety union members using a process known as Civic Openness in Negotiations. The process involved numerous negotiations, including costs of salaries, benefits, etc. and the impacts on long-term costs of pensions and retiree health care.
All the offers and counter-offers by the city and the union representatives are posted on the city's website. Before acceptance, the proposed final agreement was presented at two council meetings where the taxpayers had the opportunity to review and comment on the terms and conditions.

It is time for this open negotiation process to be adopted — immediately — in Marin County. Write your supervisor and demand it.
— Richard G. Tait, Mill Valley, Citizens for Sustainable Pension Plans

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