|September 13, 2018, City Council Workshop, 10 a.m.
Savannah City Government
COUNCIL WORK SESSION & CITY MANAGER’S BRIEFING
September 13, 2018 – 10:00 a.m.
PRESENT: Mayor Eddie DeLoach, Presiding
Aldermen: Carol Bell, Julian Miller, Brian Foster, Tony Thomas (arrived at 10:15 a.m.), Van Johnson, II, Estella Shabazz (arrived at 10:15 a.m.), John Hall
Rob Hernandez, City Manager
Bret Bell, Assistant to the City Manager
Brooks Stillwell, City Attorney
Jennifer Herman, Deputy City Attorney
William Shearouse, Assistant City Attorney
ABSENT: Alderman Bill Durrence
City Manager Hernandez welcomed everyone to the meeting and briefly reviewed the agenda.
|Workshop Agenda Items
|1. Real Estate, Personnel, Litigation
Upon motion of Alderman Johnson, seconded by Alderman Miller, and unanimously carried Council went into Executive Session for the purpose of discussing Real Estate, Litigation, and Personnel.
Upon completion of this session, a motion was made to come out of Executive Session by Alderman Johnson, seconded by Alderman Miller, and unanimously carried.
|2. Savannah Professional Firefighters Association Labor-Management Agreement
|Firefighters Association Labor Management Agreement Presentation.pdf
City Manager Hernandez stated Daphanie Williams and Jeff Grant will be presenting to Council today but wanted to brief Council on the item before they come forward.
City Manager Hernandez stated following several years of what could be considered as an impasse in the relationship between the Firefighters Union and the City, the City attempted to negotiate an updated agreement, but it is still a work in progress that will require some last minute tweaking and input from Council. He stated he believes we are almost there, probably more than 95% of the way there. The discussions that took place between staff and the Association took place in a spirit of collaboration, and hopefully improving the collaboration of a large group of employees within our Fire Department. City Manager Hernandez continued stating he has been in situations like this in the past where employers have been in difficult situations with employee unions. He stated the experience over the past three months has not reflected that. Very good and amicable conversations with the bargaining unit were held, that doesn’t mean that all parties agreed on everything. However it was done in the spirit of collaboration and cooperation and he wanted to make Council aware of that. He concluded by expressing his appreciation to Bob Milie and members of Local 574 and the various staff members that have been involved in negotiating the terms of this proposed agreement.
Mayor DeLoach asked Council to hold all questions until staff completely goes through the presentation.
Daphanie Williams, Special Projects Coordinator with the City Manager’s Office, stated she and Jeff Grant, Human Resources Director, would be presenting relevant information as it pertains to item 33 on the Council agenda for today. Ms. Williams briefly reviewed the items that would be discussed during the presentation. She stated collective bargaining is the negotiation process where employees rely on an organization to represent them in process. The purpose of the negotiations is to determine the conditions of employment. Such items that are typically negotiated relate to wages, benefits, working conditions, employee safety, training and layoff. She continued stating if an agreement is reached by both parties you would then have what is called a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) which serves as a contract that governs all of the negotiated employment issues. Ms. Williams stated it is a legal contract, enforceable by law. She stated Georgia is a Right to Work state, which means that you have the right to work and no one can force you to join or financially support a union as a condition of employment. Ms. Williams pointed out that the State of Georgia bans all collective bargaining in the public sector, with the exception of police and fire. She stated the Firefighters Mediation Act was adopted in 1971. The act provides firefighters with the ability to bargain collectively, and to be current members of a labor organization. As a condition of this right, they are not allowed to engage in strikes or work stoppages or slowdowns. It applies to municipalities in excess of 20,000, but municipalities had to adopt an ordinance electing to be covered under the act. Ms. Williams stated on May 27, 1971, City Council adopted a resolution where they agreed to enter into negotiations with Local 574, International Association of Firefighters for the purpose of bargaining collectively as to wages, rates of pay, hours, working conditions and all other terms and conditions of employment. She stated the resolution did not bring the Local under the Firefighters Mediation Act, but it did recognize the Local as the bargaining agent for firefighters. It was agreed that the same privileges that were extended to Local 574 would also be extended to other local unions of City employees. She continued stating in October 1973, City Council adopted a policy outlining rules that City employee unions had to agree to follow. The policy provided regulations regarding negations with those particular unions. The policy excluded supervisory personnel from the bargaining unit and gave directions on several items including management rights, strike prohibition, internal conduct of the union, etc. Ms. Williams continued stating on January 10, 1974, Mayor John P. Rousakis wrote a letter to W. H. Crawford, Secretary of Trades and Labor Assembly of Savannah, stating that Savannah was the only city in the state to recognize unions and engage in collective bargaining. She stated shortly thereafter former City Manager Don Mendonsa wrote a memo to City Council on January 14, 1974, in that memo he stated, “Savannah is the only local government in the State that recognizes and negotiates collectively with employee unions.” She stated the purpose for including this was to reiterate the process for negotiating collective bargaining agreements was nothing new to the City of Savannah and was a practice that had been followed since 1971.
Ms. Williams stated since then there has been a series of negotiating agreements. The most recent agreement went in to effect in January 1, 2008 and expired December 31, 2012. Both parties attempted to reach an agreement after the expiration of the contract but there were two key issues that no agreement was reached on which were: the inclusion of captains as a part of the bargaining unit; and automatic annual pay increases. She stated at some point the City Attorney reminded Council the current contract had expired and in 2018 Council directed the City Manager to reconvene the meetings and continue negotiations. Ms. Williams stated that is where the City is currently, there have been a number of meetings held with City staff to include the City Manager and members of the Local Association in an effort to renegotiate the contract. She concluded stating as such this proposed contract has been placed on the agenda for Council to consider.
Ms. Williams turned the remainder of the presentation over to Jeff Grant, Human Resources Director, to discuss the proposed changes.
City Manager Hernandez clarified for the record that only firefighters are afforded the benefit of collective bargaining.
Jeffrey Grant, Human Resources Director, reviewed the proposed changes to the agreement. He informed Council before beginning that during the presentation they may see items that say “pending litigation” and wanted to let them know that those are items that will not be discussed today for obvious reasons.
Mr. Grant went through each article noting the proposed changes to be made as follows:
Article 1: Purpose
Article 2: Recognition
Article 3: Non-discrimination
Article 4: Employer Rights
Article 5: Scope of Agreement
Article 6: Negotiations
Article 7: Internal Conduct of the Association
Article 8: Association Deductions
Article 9: Wages
Article 10: Bulletin Board
Article 11: Hours of Work
Article 12: Emergency Call Back, Stand By, or Mandatory Hold Over Pay
Article 13: Departmental Policies, Rules and Regulations
Article 14: Employee Benefits
Article 15: Vacation
Article 16: Holiday Pay and Leave
Article 17: Sick Leave
Article 18: Exchange of Duties
Article 19: Clothing and Equipment
Article 20: Prohibition of Strikes
Article 21: Discipline, Disciplinary Appeal and Conflict Resolution
Article 22: Medical Insurance
Article 23: Injury Leave
Article 24: Working out of Classification
Article 25: Safety and Health
Article 26: Savings Clause
Article 27: Labor Management Committee
Article 28: Term of Agreement
Article 29: Grievances (New)
Article 30: Association Administrative Leave Bank (New)
Article 31: Use of Facilities by Association (New)
Article 32: Probationary Employee (New)
Article 33: Promotions (New)
Article 34: Seniority Rights/Layoff and Recall (New)
Article 35: Military Leave (New)
Article 36: General Provisions (New)
City Manager Hernandez stated Council has the following options:
City Manager Hernandez suggested that Council break for lunch and reconvene at 1:00 for further discussion.
[Council continued the discussion after the City Manager's briefing.]
Alderman Thomas stated, referring to Article 10 Bulletin Board, he doesn’t have a problem with the bulletin board but he does have an issue with the statement regarding political candidates or legislation. Alderman Johnson agreed, adding it is something that other employees do not have the right to do. City Manager Hernandez stated they will clean up the language.
Alderman Thomas also asked, referring to Article 17 Sick Leave, where it states up to 1100 hours of accrued sick leave beyond FMLA leave, how do you hold a job for someone that has 2,000 hours of accrued sick leave for over a year when that employee is on the payroll but not in service? City Manager Hernandez replied oftentimes when it is a critical position you create a temporary position and the agency hires someone on a temporary basis so the other employee can return to work. Alderman Miller asked what happens to the temporary employee? City Manager Hernandez replied if the other employee returns the temporary employee will be terminated from employment or given an opportunity to find a job within the organization. Alderman Thomas asked if you can find a temporary firefighter. City Manager Hernandez replied that was a good point. Alderman Thomas asked how do you hold a fire position in service that needs to be filled for over a year.
Alderman Thomas stated, in Article 28 Term of Agreement, the sitting City Council cannot commit a future Council, therefore the term of the agreement would have to be to the terms of this Council. Mayor DeLoach stated it’s never been that way previously as the one that was previously in place last for years. Alderman Thomas stated it went from year to year because the decision was made, but this is a contract that would have to be ratified. City Manager Hernandez stated that was the intent, to approve with the initial term and then once the initial term expires you would have an Evergreen Provision which would mean it would rollover year to year unless it is renegotiated. Attorney Stillwell stated it could be terminated and stated Alderman Thomas’s point is valid as you can’t have an Evergreen contract for a City that a future Council cannot terminate.
Alderman Thomas stated in Article 27, in looking at the committee members there are a total of six people listed and asked who the tiebreaker would be in the event of a tie. City Manager Hernandez replied he is not sure the committee is a voting committee. He stated it’s designed for both parties to present issues for discussion. The way he sees it management still retains certain rights, the labor management committee is just a venue for both parties to discuss issues of mutual concern. Alderman Miller asked is that stated anywhere? City Manager Hernandez stated he doesn’t think there is anything in there that could be construed as giving the Labor Management Committee some sort of direct oversight over operations.
Alderman Thomas asked for an example of the following item from Article 34: unpaid leaves of absence authorized by CM for benefit to the City more than 365 days will not constitute a break in service. City Manager Hernandez replied this actually happened, not in Fire but he believes in the Cemeteries Department. An employee was selected eight or nine worldwide to attend a course in Mexico City on how to conserve historical stone works. He approved the leave request because it would essentially be beneficial to the City upon his return. Alderman Thomas asked if the employee is still with the City and if the time away accrued him leave towards retirement. City Manager Hernandez replied yes and he would have to check the specifics on the last question. Alderman Thomas stated he is just curious how often this comes up and under what circumstances he approves these requests. City Manager Hernandez replied during his entire career he believes he has only approved one or two extended leave of absences. Alderwoman Bell stated there was a provision in the personnel policy for education leave and asked if it was still there.
Alderman Foster stated his biggest question is that there are a number of articles that are pending litigation. He asked how can Council vote on this when they really don’t know what they are voting on. He stated some of his biggest concerns are on items that he has questions about that he can’t ask about. Attorney Stillwell replied all of those items are covered in the draft Council received. City Manager Hernandez stated if you want to ask the questions you can and if Attorney Stillwell feels it should not be answered in open session then he will guide us.
Alderman Foster asked can an employee come to City Council about a grievance.
City Manager Hernandez directed Council to Article 29, which is a newly proposed article in the agreement that will be titled grievances. He stated under the proposed grievance process a formal process is being established for employees to follow with specific timelines, and management to take certain steps. City Manager Hernandez reviewed the process with Council. Mayor DeLoach expressed his dissatisfaction with the process. City Manager Hernandez stated the appeal to Council avoids litigation. Alderman Miller stated he isn’t sure how it avoids litigation when all of this is done the aggrieved still has the right to go to court.
Alderman Foster stated in the world he knows Boards of Directors hires the CEO and they make the decisions. He continued stating and you don’t ever appeal to a Board of Directors, as that undermines the authority of the CEO, and he could never support that.
Alderman Thomas stated we just discussed the Labor Management Committee, and he spoke with Deputy City Attorney Herman and there is a differing opinion on it and he asked her to expound upon it.
Deputy Attorney Herman replied under the current agreement, the committee meets twice a year or upon the request of either party, and the proposed agreement is broader than what Council was told as it gives the labor body a voice in almost every aspect that they don’t currently have.
Alderman Thomas stated that is crucial and bothers him.
City Manager Hernandez replied Alderman Thomas is right, we cannot rush through this, if Council is not comfortable the item can be continued, as there is still a lot of work to be done.
Alderman Miller stated as much as he respect Bob Milie this stuff needs to be written out so Council understands it. He continued stating he has some concerns. He stated he is concerned about allowing employees to turn down assignments. City Manager Hernandez stated he needs Council to refer to the specific sections of the article so he can know exactly where Council’s concerns lie.
Mayor DeLoach stated let’s have another workshop on this.
Alderwoman Bell suggested a special workshop just to discuss this item.
City Manager Hernandez replied he thinks it may be helpful as this labor management agreement is not a one-sided approach. He stated Council has heard a lot from him, and the City Attorney, he thinks they need to hear from the other party as well. He asked Council to allow Mr. Milie or a designee from the union to be at the table.
Mayor DeLoach stated his opinion on this is that there are two different opinions as we come down this road. He stated he needs the City’s, not with Bob Milie, and then Bob Milie can be brought in. He continued stating these are two different approaches to a common goal. He concluded stating Council needs to have another full session workshop and then bring the union in after that.
Council came to a consensus to continue the related item that is on the Council agenda.
|3. Minimum Distance Requirements Between Convenience Stores
|ALCOHOL DISTANCE REQUIREMENTS Sept 13 Council Workshop.pdf
This item was not discussed.
|4. City Manager’s Briefing / Council Meeting Agenda Items for September 13, 2018
Council reconvened at 1:15pm
Mayor DeLoach had to attend a Downtown Savannah Authority bond signing and returned to the meeting at 1:35 p.m.
Mayor Pro Tem Carol Bell presided until he returned.
City Manager Rob Hernandez presented the City Manager’s Briefing of the agenda items for the Council Meeting of September 13, 2018. The agenda can be found online and will be made a part of the permanent record.
There being no further business, Mayor DeLoach declared this Work Session adjourned.
The video recording of the Council meeting can be found by copying and pasting the below link in your url:
|Luciana M. Spracher, Acting Clerk of Council