The head of the county’s largest public employee union ripped into the Board of Supervisors this week for hiring outside consultants and said labor relations have “deteriorated significantly” in the past year.
Kimberly Daniels, general manager of the 1,400-member San Luis Obispo County Employees Association, made the comments as the Board of Supervisors agreed to spend $190,000 on a one-year contract with Renne Sloan Holzman Sakai LPP to evaluate and help manage its public employee labor relations program.
Among the areas the contractor will assess are how to manage “severe budget imbalances in relation to a prevailing wage ordinance,” pension cost sharing, and possibly helping to implement a two-tier pension system, under which new employees would get less generous benefits than current employees.
Daniels said she is “horrified” that the county is spending money to contract out work that she said could be done internally. But she went farther, alluding to a decline in labor relations in the past year.
Prior to last year, Assistant County Administrator Gail Wilcox handled labor relations for county management. But the Board of Supervisors fired her a year ago “based on her participation in a personal relationship that conflicted with her official duties.”
That relationship was with a negotiator for the Deputy Sheriffs Association.
Wilcox has since been hired by SLOCEA on a contract basis to conduct a job classification and compensation survey.
After Wilcox left, new Human Resources Director Tami Douglas-Schatz took over labor relations, and she and County Administrator Jim Grant have been trying to get the issue under control.
Grant told supervisors that the nation, state and county are in a “dire situation” and the county needs to take a ”global look” at how to handle it. He said “in-house methods simply didn’t work.”
He did not elaborate.
Under the new contract, Renne Sloan Holzman Sakai will become the lead negotiators on behalf of the county. In a staff report, Douglas-Schatz wrote that the firm has “a notable reputation for representing public employers in a creative and cost effective manner.”