Law firm

Solon Council Approves Law Firm to Represent City in Services Union Negotiations

SOLON, Ohio — The City Council has authorized the Cleveland law firm Zashin & Rich to represent the city in labor negotiations with the new Solon Service Department Union.

The Council adopted the legislation at a special meeting on Friday (August 26).

The city’s director of legal affairs, Thomas Lobe, told council on July 18 that the city’s utility department had voted to form a union.

The city is currently in the process of preparing a collective agreement with the newly formed union and has determined that specialized legal counsel is required, in accordance with the ordinance.

Mayor Ed Kraus and Lobe both recommended Zashin & Rich to the board, particularly attorney Stephen S. Zashin, co-managing partner of the firm. Zashin has extensive experience in labor negotiations, Kraus said.

Kraus, an attorney, said he represents the city in labor negotiations with its fire and police department unions and “felt very comfortable doing so.”

“After tough negotiations, we reached an agreement (with the fire and police unions), both in 2018 and last year for this year,” he said. “It’s a new union.”

Kraus said Zashin, whom he knows, contacted him and informed him that he handled labor negotiations for many service departments in the area.

“And because of the specialty of his business, only with service departments, and this is a new union, I felt it was important to involve an expert attorney,” Kraus said. “I think it will help us.

“We’ve been through a lot, obviously, with the changes in health care, and we’ve had a lot of changes that we wanted to push forward, and I just don’t want to go back.”

Lobe did not attend the meeting. But William Drsek, the city’s public works commissioner, told council that Lobe had interviewed Zashin and “was comfortable with it.”

“You can tell by the resume that they (Zashin & Rich) have extensive experience dealing with service departments,” Drsek said. “We have a large service department, and they have a lot of experience with the same size type.”

Vice Mayor and Ward 5 Councilwoman Nancy Meany asked what the timeline for negotiations would be.

“The unions have always been there since I’ve been on the board,” she says. “Are (Zashin & Rich) starting to negotiate with (the service union), or what’s the plan?”

Kraus said he believed negotiations would take place before the end of the year.

“The service (department) now has a lawyer, so they will start,” he said.

The ordinance passed by council is retroactive to July 20, as Zashin & Rich provided initial guidance to the city with “minimum hours” invested to date.

In a July 20 memo to the city, Zashin & Rich offered to reduce its hourly rates to the city to $290 for associate attorneys, $250 for associate attorneys, and $225 for paralegals, clerks, and other assistants. legal.

The memo also said Zashin & Rich had represented numerous public sector entities in labor and employment matters, including the cities of Beachwood, Cleveland, Euclid, Pepper Pike, Shaker Heights and Warrensville Heights, and Orange Village.

Too many exemption requests?

In another action, council approved waiver requests for three residential projects that had been recommended for approval by the city’s Planning Commission. Two of these items dealt with deviations in the location of accessory structures.

Ahead of the council vote, Ward 7 Councilman Bill Russo said that when the city’s Master Plan Citizens Committee meets again, he would ask him to consider updating the zoning code. of the city “because we had an extraordinary number of ancillary structure deviations”.

“Either something’s wrong with the code, or we’re granting way too many of these deviations,” he said.

Russo said when the city master plan was passed in 2010, one of the issues was “we had all these asphalt jungles for all the commercial and industrial properties, and we updated the zoning code to reflect a more current number of parking spaces which was applicable.”

“So I think it would be a great opportunity to update the zoning code so that we don’t have the number of waiver requests that we have,” he said.

Ward 1 Councilman Macke Bentley, who chairs the Planning Commission, thanked Russo for bringing it up. He said the commission plans to “adjust a bunch of them” with the help of Ashley Holloway, the city’s director of planning and community development.

“Some of it should be done administratively, instead of (bringing residents to the Planning Commission),” he said.

The Board will not meet on September 5, Labor Day, and a meeting previously scheduled for September 6 has been cancelled.

Its next regular meeting will be at 7:30 p.m. on September 19.