Labor Relations

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Labor Relations Background

The City of Novato has six recognized labor unions that represent approximately 165 employees. The City negotiates compensation and other aspects of employment for the members of these employee groups through the collective bargaining process. This process is governed by State law known as the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act or “MMBA” (California Government Code Section 3500, et seq.) Among other elements of the collective bargaining process, the MMBA sets forth requirements for:

  • the duty to bargain in good faith on matters within the scope of representation;
  • mandatory subjects of bargaining, including wages, hours and other employment terms and conditions;
  • impasse and fact finding to resolve disputes.

The terms and conditions of employment and any modifications agreed to by the parties are set forth in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). This is a legally binding contract on the parties. The duration of the MOU is anywhere from one year to several years in length, depending on what has been negotiated.

The chart below identifies the City’s six recognized bargaining units. It also identifies two non-unionized groups of employees whose employment terms and conditions are established by City Council resolution rather than by a negotiated MOU.

Bargaining Unit  Name Classifications  Status  Number of Members 
A Novato Police Managers' Association  Captains, Lieutenants and Sergeants  Recognized and Represented  14 
B Novato Police Association  Police Officers and Corporals  Recognized and Represented  44 
SEIU Mid-Managers  Division Managers  Recognized and Represented 
SEIU General Employees  Maintenance Workers, Office Assistants, Accounting Assistants, Recreation Supervisors and Coordinators, Planners, Building Inspectors, Code Enforcement Officers and others.  Recognized and Represented  82 
Engineers  Professional Engineers and Public Works Inspectors  Recognized, but not represented 
Confidential Group  Management Analysts, HR Analysts, Executive Assistants Not represented  10 
Exempt Management Group  Department Heads, Division Managers  Not represented  16 
Novato Police Civilian Employees Association  Dispatchers, Records Clerks  Recognized and Represented  15 
Total        191 

Labor Negotiations Status

The MOUs with the City’s six recognized unions and the resolutions for the two non-union groups were scheduled to expire on June 30, 2016.  The City entered into labor negotiations earlier this year with these groups to discuss successor MOUs. All MOUs are now approved and staff is working to edit the Collective Bargaining Agreements for posting.

2016 Labor Negotiations Status 
Unit A - Novato Police Managers’ Association Complete – Agreement approved 7/26/16
Unit B - Novato Police Association  Complete – Agreement approved 7/26/16
Unit C - SEIU Mid-Managers  Complete – Agreement approved 10/25/16
Unit D - SEIU General Employees  Complete – Agreement approved 10/25/16
Unit E - Engineers  Complete – Agreement approved 10/25/16
Unit F - Confidential Group  Complete – Agreement approved 10/25/16
Unit G - Exempt Management Group  Complete – Agreement approved 10/25/16
Unit H - Novato Police Civilian Employees’ Association  Complete – Agreement approved 7/26/16


The City has historically struggled to maintain wages and benefits that are competitive with other public agencies in the North Bay area. The problem has been particularly acute relative to the recruitment and retention of Police Officers. Since January 2013, the City has lost 12 Officers to other agencies, almost exclusively in the North Bay. Specifically, in 2014, there were 7 Police Officers that left Novato employment to join other law enforcement agencies.  Conversely, the City has been unable to attract experienced officers from elsewhere. To a certain extent, the City is now suffering a similar recruitment and retention problem with positions other than Police Officer.

While Novato’s compensation remains below the market average, these agreements make progress in addressing some of the overall differences. It should be noted, however, that the one-time payments, while significant, do not improve employees’ ongoing compensation. They are intended to recognize to the best of the City’s ability the substantial sacrifices made by employees in the midst of the recession, the out-of-pocket cost many employees must pay for benefits, and that there is no cost of living adjustment proposed for the first year of the agreements.

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