Under previous City Councilmen, the 1st District’s office employed a fulltime assistant. However, Councilman Pete Constant enjoys the secretarial work, could manage the workload himself, and decided not to hire an assistant.

This simple act of forgoing a hiring has sparked controversy between the councilman and one of the city’s unions.

The union claims that Councilman Constant does not have the authority not to hire an assistant, and by not doing so, he is violating the labor agreement between the city and union.

Now, the dispute is being sent to the state’s Public Employee Relations Board, a move that will cost the city’s taxpayers in arbitration and lawyers fees.

From the San Jose Mercury News:

At a time when San Jose faces more than a $100 million budget deficit and the prospect of hundreds of layoffs, San Jose City Councilman Pete Constant is battling with a City Hall employees’ union over whether he should be forced to hire an administrative assistant.

Judge Kevin McKenney of Santa Clara County Superior Court recently ordered that the case be taken to a costly arbitration instead of the state’s Public Employment Relations Board — something both Constant and the city’s attorneys had sought.

That decision pleased the city’s 214-member Confidential Employees Organization, which contends the city was required to confer with the union before Constant decided to eliminate the position. The job — which requires answering phones, scheduling appointments and making photocopies, among other duties — pays about $70,000 a year.

Read the full article here.