Monday, August 18, 2008

Unions smell a rat in Mayor Slay

This story is going up on the St. Louis American website today. Added here for those who don't keep an eye on that site. I think it's good to know. Not sure when/if/how the Post-Dispatch or Business Journal will report it. Unions have been picketing City Hall every Friday for weeks, but you hardly hear a peep about it in the mainstream press.


Unions set to sue Slay’s commission
‘You’re just following the mayor’s orders’
By Chris King
Of the St. Louis American
JoAnn Williams, business representative for Carpenters’ District Council of Greater Saint Louis, said a number of unions representing City workers would file a suit against the City of St. Louis and its Civil Service Commission regarding what union officials describe as violations of collective bargaining procedures and the City Charter.
The unions say they have an agreement negotiated in good faith with City Director of Personnel Richard Frank that the commission refuses to forward to the Board of Aldermen for approval.
As set forth in the City Charter, the commission’s three members – Stanley Newsome Sr. (chairman), Steven M. Barney (vice chairman) and John H. Clark – are appointed by the mayor. A union official called them out after a recent meeting as stooges of Mayor Francis G. Slay.
"This whole process is ridiculous," said Ted Williams, president of AFSCME Local 410, one of the locals filing suit against the City.
"You’ve had this plan for more than two months and it’s obvious that you’re just following the mayor’s orders. You should just submit your resignations right now."
Williams noted that the Civil Service Commission is meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) in a closed session "to discuss legal issues."
"What they are going to do, I don’t know," she said.
But Williams knows what a lawyer representing union carpenters, plumbers and pipefitters, service workers, painters, operators and electricians who work for the City is going to do: file suit.
The unions will demand that the commission submit to the Board of Aldermen a pay plan the unions had negotiated with City Director of Personnel Richard Frank.
"We claim that the only authority the commission has is to forward the agreement to the Board of Aldermen," Williams said.
"They’re saying they’re not sure of the City’s fiscal ability to pay. But that’s not within their purview. That’s up for the City’s legislative body to decide."
The back story
A number of unions representing City employees have been picketing City Hall, claiming that Slay undermined an agreement negotiated in good faith between union officials and Frank.
Williams said Frank had negotiated a pay plan with a 2.5 percent pay raise and merit increases that could add up to 3 percent a year. She said this agreement was consistent with a promise made by the mayor in exchange for union support for the half-cent sales tax increase that city voters passed in February.
Williams and the unions’ legal counsel claim that Slay then worked behind the scenes with the commission to float a substitute pay plan with fewer financial incentives.
A July 17 Labor Tribune report quotes from minutes from a June 13 commission meeting.
In the meeting, Director of Personnel Richard Frank asks commission Vice Chairman Steven M. Barney about the origin of the substitute pay plan.
Barney said, "I had the mayor’s office help me with this."

This is the same commission that recently sided with the mayor over former Fire Chief Sherman George, whose grievance is headed to the Circuit Courts.


Union rat photo from someone's Flickr page.

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