Jonathan Holtzman



Jonathan (Jon) Holtzman is a founding partner of Renne Public Law Group, and was previously a founding partner of Renne Sloan Holtzman Sakai LLP. Since 2005, and every year since, Mr. Holtzman has been named a “Northern California Super Lawyer.”

Mr. Holtzman’s practice focuses on assisting government agencies maintain and expand public services through strategic consulting, negotiations, fact finding, arbitration and litigation. He specializes in addressing long-term structural issues relating to pensions, health benefits, retirement health benefits, civil service reform, and other means of attaining greater managerial discretion and effectiveness through collective bargaining and reorganization. He frequently speaks and writes on matters pertaining to municipal bankruptcy, ballot initiatives, interest arbitration, bargaining, fact finding, comparability, fiscal analysis for bargaining, and pension and retirement medical programs.

Mr. Holtzman has experience in virtually all aspects of employment law and labor relations. His labor expertise encompasses negotiations, fact finding, mediation, grievance and interest arbitration, and litigation related to bargaining obligations. He is the author of Rutter Group’s California Practice Guide: Public Sector Employment Litigation Guide, the leading treatise on public sector employment issues.

Mr. Holtzman also practices government law, including general advice work, drafting ballot and other legislative measures and initiatives, litigating issues of constitutional and statutory interpretation, and electoral matters. He currently serves as District Counsel to the Moraga Orinda Fire District and as General Counsel to the Woodside Fire Prevention District.


Prior to entering private practice, Mr. Holtzman served as Director of Labor and Policy in the office of San Francisco Mayor Willie L. Brown, Jr. His duties included serving as the Mayor’s chief labor negotiator. As a senior advisor to the Mayor, Mr. Holtzman oversaw the management of city employment and benefits issues, and helped craft major policy initiatives including the city’s living wage law, civil service reforms, and criminal justice initiatives.

Before working directly for Mayor Brown, Mr. Holtzman was San Francisco’s Chief Deputy City Attorney. He was a principal architect of the City Attorney’s nationally recognized affirmative litigation program, which brought together groups of local government and non-profit plaintiffs to seek court-ordered reform of unfair business practices by energy producers, tobacco companies, national banks, gun manufacturers, auto insurers, and escrow companies. He also defended San Francisco’s affirmative action programs in a series of lawsuits arising under Proposition 209, including San Francisco’s challenges to Proposition 209 in both state and federal courts.

Before his appointment as Chief Deputy City Attorney, Mr. Holtzman was San Francisco’s chief labor and employment attorney. In that role he served as a chief negotiator in labor negotiations and interest arbitration with the City’s 47 unions, and acted as lead counsel in lawsuits, writs, class actions, and appeals involving all facets of labor and employment law. Mr. Holtzman managed the City’s transition to collective bargaining and interest arbitration and drafted attendant charter and civil service reform measures. On behalf of three mayoral administrations and numerous boards of supervisors, he authored and negotiated more than a dozen labor- related charter amendments adopted by the voters.

Mr. Holtzman has been extensively involved in efforts to improve government effectiveness. He negotiated and drafted a 1999 ballot measure reforming the governance of San Francisco’s municipal transit system and making it a quasi-independent agency, and Proposition G, which overhauled MUNI’s system of negotiation with unions. He also drafted a 2002 ballot measure enhancing the authority of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, and a 2003 ballot measure requiring the City Controller to conduct “benchmarking” studies of City services, as well as performance audits to improve government effectiveness.

Before joining the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office, Mr. Holtzman was an associate at Morrison & Foerster for four years, focusing primarily on employment class actions. Upon graduation from Stanford Law School, he clerked for California Supreme Court Associate Justice Otto Kaus for two years. During law school he clerked for the Washington, D.C. Center for Law and Social Policy and for the Washington D.C. firm founded by former Defense Secretary Clark Clifford and disarmament negotiator Paul Warnke.


  • Rutter Group Vesting Panel, What’s Next for the “California Rule” Public Employee Pensions as Vested Rights, The Rutter Group/MCLE Program, June, 2018
  • Rutter Group: California Practice Guide, Public Sector Employment Litigation (2017)
  • Declarations of Fiscal Emergency: A Resurging Option for Public Entities Attempting toDeal With The Current Economic Climate, California Public Law Journal, Vol. 34, No. 1,Winter 2011.
  • Does Labor Law Prevent Voter Initiatives To Control Pensions? The Coming Fight Between Core Democratic Principles and Traditional Labor Negotiation in the Public Sector, Bender’s California Labor & Employment Bulletin, Vol. 2012, No. 10, October 2010.


  • Fazio v. City and County of San Francisco, 125 F.3d 1238 (9th Cir. 1977), holding that assistant district attorney is a policymaker who can be dismissed due to speech critical of the District Attorney.
  • Stewart v. City and County of San Francisco, 834 F.Supp. 1223 (N.D.Cal. 1993), first case to hold Department of Labor’s 1954 “salary basis test” invalid as applied to public employers, eliminating large FLSA liability.
  • Service Employees International Union Local 102 v. County of San Diego, 60 F.3d 1346 (9th Cir. 1994), adopting San Francisco’s argument that federal “salary basis test” cannot lawfully be applied to government employers.
  • United Farm Workers of America v. Agricultural Labor Relations Board, 41 Cal.App.4th 303 (1995), and a related case against San Francisco, holding that the California Table Grapes Council lacked authority to sue the union and the City on behalf of growers.
  • United Association of Journeymen v. City and County of San Francisco, 32 Cal.App.4th 751 (1995), upholding $60 million wage freeze under San Francisco City Charter.
  • Retired Employees Association of Orange County v. County of Orange, 52 Cal.4th 1171 (2011), holding that a county may be bound by an implied contract under California law if there is no legislative prohibition against such arrangements, such as a statute or ordinance.
  • Vallejo Police Officers Assn. v. City of Vallejo (2017) 15 Cal.App.5th 601.


  • Stanford School of Law, JD
  • Haverford College, BA


  • California

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Nelson Fialho
Executive Director, RPMG
Arthur Hartinger
Jonathan Holtzman
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Luke Jensen
Senior Management Analyst
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Debra Gill
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Jannie Quinn
Louise Renne
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Dan Rich
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Eric Figueroa
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Program Analyst
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