Burbank city attorneys' union disbands

The union representing Burbank city attorneys, which was formed last year to seek raises and better pension benefits, has disbanded, citing an inability to represent members without potentially damaging professional relationships at City Hall, records show.

The Burbank City Attorneys’ Assn. was formed in February 2013 with 10 attorneys and a paralegal and ran a hard-nosed campaign to increase their salaries and pension benefits after having gone five years without a pay raise.

Within a few months, negotiations between the city and the association reached a stalemate as union members pushed for what city officials said would have been a 13% salary increase retroactive to the previous November and an additional 2% salary increase for the each of next three years.

A year after forming, the association sued the city, claiming it forced the employees to pay a portion of their employee retirement contributions, which they argued the city had long ago agreed to cover.

In April, the Burbank City Council, in a unanimous vote with no discussion, imposed terms on the group after negotiations were unsuccessful. The terms included a 3% raise for members in exchange for the employees paying their full employee pension contribution, which is 8% of their salaries.

In a letter to City Manager Mark Scott dated July 17, the union’s president, Terry Stevenson, described intentions to dismiss the lawsuit, as well as any complaints with the Public Employees Relations Board, and disband the association.

While the union is proud of the work it’s done for its members, Stevenson wrote, “it has become increasingly clear in the last few months that we can no longer effectively represent the interests of our members without potentially damaging our professional relationships with other members of city management and creating disharmony in the city attorney’s office.”

In the letter, Stevenson asked that the city waive all costs it had incurred for the lawsuit, which city spokesman Drew Sugars said amounted to roughly $500. The city plans to waive that cost, Sugars added.

Moving forward, the employees will return to their classification as “unrepresented management employees.”

The city last year had appropriated $100,000 to pay an outside law firm to represent the city in negotiations with two bargaining groups, including the attorneys’ union.

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