BOS - May 22, 2006 - Workshop w/Personnel Board

BOS - May 22, 2006 - Workshop w/Personnel Board

Postby Suzanne Kane » Wed Jun 21, 2006 10:35 am

Douglas Board of Selectmen
Personnel Board Joint Workshop Minutes
May 22, 2006
Approved June 20, 2006

Call to Order:
Madam Chair Shirley Mosczynski called the joint workshop with the Personnel Board to order at 6:34 pm in the Municipal Center.
In Attendance: Paula Brouillett Vice-Chair, Mike Hughes (also on FINCOM), Mitch Cohen and Executive Administrator Michael J. Guzinski
Personnel Board: BettyAnn McCallum, Cindy Leven, Ray Timpone and David St. George

Personnel Board – Bylaws and Policies:

Mike G – Started the workshop discussion stating that the Personnel Board has been working for quite some time on the bylaws and policy. At the Special Town Meeting in April it was voted not to approve the proposed bylaw and the two boards decided that after the Annual Town Meeting and Election they would meet. Mike drafted an agenda with the help of Ray Timpone who commented he prepared this without consulting the rest of the committee. He said he looked forward to positive discussion and bring a revised bylaw back to the voter. Shirley – complemented them on all their work and felt it came down to the money factor. FinCom didn’t agree with it at all.

Discussion continued: “Sick Leave Buy Back”- From a “union standpoint” should have been a little more of concern but had been taken off.
“Tuition Reimbursement” would’ve been a small item.
“Longevity” being a major point, was then focused on and most objected to it. It was compared to other towns and decided to look at our Town-benefits were taken out of the Police Contract. It’s a major concern of future contracts and the committee felt the timing wasn’t right to be adding another benefit as times are difficult financially. The FinCom felt the benefit package the Town employees get is extremely good. Once enacted- the Town looses control over that to an extent you’d have to go to Town Meeting to repeal or change. It was expressed that the pay level here is fair, good and the longevity would add on to it, kicks in at 5 years, but we have a step plan which effectively is 10 years with increases. Going back to industry in the past, when someone got to the top of their grade and their job effectively didn’t change so there was really no reason to change the grade of the job, that’s when a longevity (stipend) kicks in. Basically that person is at the top of what they’re ever going to get for step increases for that job and we also have a cost of living that we don’t necessarily evaluate. We have different pieces for salary changes every year that we should look at and see how we want to manage them. We should take a look at the step “thing” that has been effective for about 7-8 years and see how we want to handle “Cost of Living”. Those numbers were tied to the contracts and it’s what the teachers were getting. When the Personnel Board was set up, those step increases were supposed to be merit increases and not supposed to be automatic every year. As of this year those contracts will be in negotiation. The Personnel Board doesn’t feel the detail of all the benefits should be in the Personnel Bylaw, original plan was to have it separated.
Essentially for those that may not be aware, last fall the Personnel Board had put together a bylaw that had chapters 1 – 5 which didn’t include the benefits, a framework to set up the Personnel Board powers/duties/appointments. Then all the benefit sections would be included in the 80 page book, policies formulated by the Personnel Board. When you put those in the bylaw it becomes a political no longer an administrative issue.
On the “Step Issue”- the Committee (Personnel Board) hoped to make that step an earned step as opposed to an automatic advancement in step.
The heart of why the the Board of Selectmen and FinCom didn’t support the bylaws-we need some mechanism to move forward. Some of the reasons those who voted against it at Town Meeting, there was an opportunity to control spending even though it only applied to a small percentage of Town employees (34 affected). If not supported you will have a de-motivated group even if they’re not unionized (this could be an alternative). On Town Meeting floor when things become political decisions, logic doesn’t always rank in the top 10 things people are looking at. The personnel bylaws that get voted at Town Meeting should be everything except for the actual benefits. The few employees that aren’t covered under contract, in years when we’ve had tough times, these are the people that went with no raises, when the school and police got their raises, they gave up working 40 hours so the town wouldn’t go bankrupt, some of the elected officials worked for free for one week when we forgot to figure in the third week. There is a history how they got to this point. There’s a need to come up with a fair way to look at the benefit package and have public hearings to include these employees and their input. Hoping it’s not too late (talk of a union) and employees know what we’re doing. One of the objectives of the “Compensation Package” is both recruitment and retention and the need to be equivalent. How do we involve the 34 employees in somewhat of this process so they have some understanding of what it is we’re trying to get to with them. Encourage them to attend meetings and maybe taping them for all to view. They should be compared to the union employees in this town. The personnel board needs guidance on how to result in closure. How do you justify how you work out all the different things. The check and balance here is the Board of Selectmen has to answer to the public but on the other hand if benefits get slashed it is the employees you have to deal with. It could say any changes in benefits shall be recommended by the Personnel Board and ratified by the Board of Selectmen after a 30 day public notice and a public hearing. The selling point to the employees will be to be put into the policy rather than the bylaws. The people who don’t want to spend money ever on anything are always going to never want to spend money on anything no matter how you justify it. The general agreement is the benefits belong in the policy. Once that’s decided, the justification for whatever benefits are proposed in the policy there’s some methodology that this committee comes up with. The Douglas employees are the people we’re trying to motivate, retain and attract. The turnover rate is very low, people stay here forever.
Suggestions: -Go by the police and school contracts, approach the employees, draw up a proposal to the Board of Selectmen and come back from the Board of Selectmen with a proposal. OR
-Figure out what’s good/needed for the employees who aren’t unionized and then work union contracts from there.
The Board has to make a very clear message since negotiating both contracts, this may be the year readjustments have to be made. There’s only a couple variables that can be worked with-80% is salary and 15% is debt. We certainly don’t want to see people laid off, it defeats the whole picture. The bargaining position is-if you take something away you have to give something else. The Selectmen deal with union contracts the Personnel Board has to deal with the employees as well as the Selectmen. It’s not uncommon-depending on the situation when negotiating contracts-to have labor counsel at some meetings. Douglas is not a community that has bought into the Quinn Bill. An option to having a union is you’re going to end up having to accept some benefits or benefit package which is significantly different while trying to be fair. The police feel they should have a better contract as they are out there being exposed to all kinds of things vs someone in the office all day. Per state law there can be a single representative from the municipal side in contract negotiations. Usually it’s the administrator or chair of the board and basically they serve as a full voting member of the School Committee for the purposes of union negotiations/contracts. The Town needs to be notified and given the opportunity to have its representative present at all executive sessions so the Town knows what’s going on.
There has been better communication and working relations with the Board of Selectmen and School Committee.
Something could be put in the policy stating in trying to get dealings with our non-union employees closer to our union, we may consider-let’s say we’re able to negotiate the police and school contract, they end up being on the same three year contract at 7%-it can be done with our non-union employees-for 34 more people it’s not unreasonable to look at. We’d have to check with Town Counsel.
Basically if you have 3 union contracts and they all say in FY08 each union would get a 3% COLA-rolled into the average. There would be something in the actual policies that would say that non-union people would get the same cola as the average of union contracts. You’re defining percentage for 3 years. Worse case scenario if your financial picture completely falls apart, to keep that increase is reduce the amount you’re paying people or reduce the number of people you’re paying.
At the last Town meeting, comments were made by and feelings were hurt by FinCom, past employees and members of the Personnel Board did not show up to cover employees backs. It’s emotional right now and the sooner we do something to smooth things over the better. A meeting should be set up for people who want to vent with the Personnel Board, go forward by extracting the benefits from the bylaws and reformulate the bylaws and policies.
Personnel Board “To Do”: Benchmark Study from Mike G to use the information from surrounding towns and communities as a baseline, but use the Douglas contracts as the foundation for achieving an equitable compensation proposal.
Study of 15 Different Towns: Retrieve a copy an individual gave to FinCom
Meet: ASAP with the non-union employees of the Town to share with them how the Personnel Board intends to go forward and how they’re incorporated into the proposal of the bylaws.
Town Meeting: If we can get this all together, it’s reasonable to do this at Town Meeting in October / November. Town meeting would vote on the appropriation, so they may go across the board and say we’re going to cut all the wage lines of the non-union employees by 3%. What they’re actually doing is forcing theTown to make a decision at that point, you wouldn’t violate the policy, you’d either lay someone off or reduce the Town Hall by an hour a week to make up that difference. The Board of Selectmen would have to accept the policies in the September timeframe contingent upon the approval of the new bylaws.

Highway Superintendent’s Job Description:
– The description passed out is from 2000/2001, asked if anyone had any issues with it and commented these documents are subject to change:
Signage - Added
- Appointed by the Board of Selectmen, works under the administrative
direction of the Executive Administrator.
Supervisory Responsibilities - Supervises all full-time and part-time employees and
seasonal personnel
Education and Experience - 10 years supervisory experience
Award Bids - Upon approval of the Executive Administrator
Licensing Requirements - all on record in the office.

Motion - To approve the Highway Superintendent job description as amended. All – aye.

Personnel Board Meeting – June 5, 2006 - Employees invited to attend at 7:00 pm.
Start out by inviting questions/comments and find out what they’re really interested in.

Adjournment- Paula Brouillette made a motion to adjourn at 8:32 pm.
Seconded – Mike Hughes. All - aye.

Respectfully submitted,

Jane L. Alger
Administrative Secretary
Suzanne Kane
Posts: 641
Joined: Wed May 25, 2005 2:01 pm

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