Committee Chair Mr. Hoefle opened the meeting at approximately 6:00 p.m. Members of the Committee in attendance were Mr. Hoefle and Mr. Evers. Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins was late in arriving. Present from Council were Ms. Vaughn, Mr. Licht, Ms. DePledge and Council President D’Ambrosio.
In attendance from the Administration were Mayor Morley, Finance Director Slocum and Police Chief Reik.
Also in attendance were members of the public.
section 155.03 “holidays”
Mr. Hoefle: This was brought up sometime last fall. Chief Reik?
Chief Reik: After a long process through arbitration and a couple of different hearings and some back and forth the Police Union was re-awarded holidays. We get twelve holidays a year and three have to be used that do not create overtime and the other nine can be used in the same manner or cashed in. That has been this way before I started here until 2007 when the issues came up with the contract. About a 1 ½ years ago Chief Whittington and I both decided privately and then in a meeting to take the good and the bad with our Union contract. When the Unions lose things we thought we should lose them and when they gained things we thought we should gain them. The first thing that came up was the loss in sick time a couple of years ago. The sick time changed from 75% to 50% and both of us saw our predecessors take different buyouts then the men which we never felt was a good practice. We said at that time that we were willing to take the reduction in the sick time buyouts with the hopes that if things did change and anything was awarded in contract we would expect to get that too. That was unanimously passed and we took the reduction when in place. Then fast forward to this point. There seems to be some misconception on the holidays themselves. If I elect to cash in holidays and take a holiday the only way I can do that is if I have enough accrued time – either vacation or personal time or anything like that. I would not be taking a holiday off and getting paid for it. It would be either an adjustment of the workweek or some use of accrued time off. It is not a double dipping type issue or anything like that.
Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins joined the meeting at this time.
Chief Reik: That is as clear as I can make it. It is not the easiest concept to follow.
Mr. Hoefle: Any questions from the Committee, the rest of Council or the Administration?
Mr. Licht: What you are saying is the Union got those back and that is why you are requesting the back pay?
Chief Reik: Yes.
Mayor Morley: We had discussions this week on not only the Chief’s holidays but just in general how things are being paid and done. Mr. D’Ambrosio and I talked today about what is different outside of government. Usually where you work if it is a holiday you are off for the holiday and get paid the holiday. The difference here is they can move them around and that sometimes causes the conflict in people not understanding. That is where I am at. That is the way it is. They did step up when the time came and we have always done… I talked to Mr. Slocum who was concerned about it. What we always did when I was on Council and what we have continued to do – when someone gave up something they got it returned if the Union contract was negotiated. I think sooner or later down the line we have to look at it differently. I know you know how I feel that things should start at the top and go down – on sacrifices. We will discuss that on the Administrative side but I have no issues with this happening if you agree to pay the Chief.
Mr. Slocum: This is an equity thing that you are looking at. If you are going to start doing equity things then I want my position looked at. I am being paid the equivalent of $67,000 a year by working the full 40 with the full rate position being $83,000. If we have enough money that we can start throwing more around then I want my share. I don’t have a Union that does the negotiating for my position. I think you get a quality product out of my Department – my Unit. I am paid nowhere – I cleared $54,000 last year. That is what you got your Finance Director for. I don’t think that is fair to me and I do not think it is fair for other 155 members – I am limiting that to Directors because there are other 155 members who are not Directors. I still think adjustments need to be made because they do not have Union contracts that take them through any steps or anything like that. If we are going to start handing out money I will put my hand out.
Ms. DePledge: How much money did the holidays come to?
Chief Reik: You are talking $3,000 - $3,500.
Mr. Slocum: I thought it was $2,500 to $3,000.
Mr. D’Ambrosio: Mr. Slocum, I agree. I think there are a lot of people in this City who are under paid. I know I explained my position to you as far as when Chief Reik and Chief Whittington both came to us and said that we should take away from them the items the Union lost. I think that was two or three years ago. We thought we would look at it and it is consistent with what the Unions get. That is where I am with it. They willingly gave something up and no one at this table or anyone from the audience questioned it. We asked if they were sure they wanted to do it and they said they wanted to be consistent with what their guys are. I think that is great leadership. I applaud that and actually learned something from that. I was glad to see that. That is why I don’t have a problem with this.
Mr. Slocum: I would like to be on record that this has nothing to do with Chief Reik personally whatsoever.
Mr. D’Ambrosio: I know that.
Mr. Slocum: I honestly believe this City has two excellent Chiefs running their Departments. You are doing things on an equity basis. If you are going to do things on an equity basis then I want my share of equity.
Ms. Vaughn: I am the oldest one here and have the memory of how it used to be and the reasons things were done. At one point in time there was an ordinance as part of 155 that when the Union got something the management of that Department got equal benefits. We did it that way because the other way we would be changing the ordinances all the time because this Union got this and that Union got that. Across the board everyone got the same hospitalization, the Police Chiefs got the same holidays, vacation time in their contract, the Fire Department got what was in their contract, the Finance, Building and Service Departments got any benefits the AFSME employees got. That made it equal across the board. I am not negating the fact that our Finance Director is grossly underpaid. We have some Directors that I feel are well overpaid. That is my personal opinion. But, I think to make the board clean and even we should put this into action for the Chief. It is $2,500. We have spent that by accident other places. And, this is something the man has earned.
Mr. Licht. As a point of clarity – this was part of the negotiations that they offered up. Normally in negotiations when you give something up you are asking for something else. Was something tied to this that they asked for?
Mr. Slocum: The vacation buy-out was awarded on the conciliation. The City opposed it and the conciliator awarded it.
Chief Reik: There has always been a dispute and I believe it was when Finance Director Condron was here – 2007 – when this all started. I was actually the negotiator for the Lieutenants and there was a bunch of wording changes in the contract that Mr. Esposito was looking for and he worked with our guy and they got some redoing of the language. The holidays read different but our guy and Mr. Esposito were both clear that it meant what it always meant – it was just worded differently. I guess it was foolish of us to believe our guy – through his incompetence as soon as it got signed it did not mean that anymore – it meant that we could not cash them in. Was this the incompetence of the staff representative but I was there and at the table and know what Mr. Esposito said. It backlogs four years of ill will that was part of the contract. When people look at a benefit that people had in the past – holidays or comp time or this or that they always forget if the contract has a give there was probably and get at one point that evened it out. That is just the way these things work. I agree Mr. Slocum is underpaid. Mr. McReynolds already knows what he gets paid – I did not get involved in the process for our Building Official. And I know this entire City compared to any other City its size in Northeast Ohio is low. My guys tell me that all the time and I cannot argue with them. The difference between myself and the Fire Chief and compared to the other Directors is this is where we both started – these are the contracts we fought for and worked with for the 15-18 years we were in those Unions and I think that is possibly why the clause Ms. Vaughn spoke about was in 155. At one point 155 took advantage of it and some past employees took advantage of the Civil Service – “I want everything you get but I don’t want to lose anything you lose.” That is where I think the animosity from both sides has come from. You have to take the good when it is good and the bad when it is bad and just move on.
Mayor Morley: This is going back five to six years. The difference with the government case as compared to the normal unions outside the government is if you go to arbitration you are done. In this system you can go to arbitration and lose and then go to Court. That is what happened. It went to arbitration and one side appealed and went to Court and they won and that was final.
Mr. Slocum: No, it went to arbitration. The arbitrator awarded the Police and the City took that to Court and the City won in Common Pleas and then it was appealed the Common Pleas was upheld. So, the Police lost in the Courts. After that contract this item was brought back in the last contract in conciliation and they won it in conciliation.
Chief Reik: There is no final say. That is the fortunate thing for both sides. There will always be hard feelings no matter what.
Mr. Hoefle: Committee, shall we move this forward as presented?
Mrs. Quinn-Hopkins: I am sorry I came in late. Previously their question was – the issue that was argued previously was that you were a salaried employee.
Chief Reik: Our pay is billed as an hourly rate.
Mayor Morley: He is salary but it is based on hourly.
Chief Reik: The salary comment was made by the individual who is not here any longer and the point I made when he said that was when we gave stuff up we were not told salary is salary and hourly is hourly. We were only told when we wanted something back. You can argue against the validity of that argument but it has to be made at both times – not just when it is not a benefit.
Mr. Hoefle: Committee, do you want to move this forward as presented?
Upon review, the Committee agreed to move this item forward to the next regular Council meeting.
RED FLEX TRAFFIC SYSTEM
Mr. Hoefle: Mr. D’Ambrosio brought this to my attention. Last year we had under the Safety Committee pending since March 12, 2013 the Red Flex Traffic System. As we are not planning on doing anything with this I would like to refer this out of Committee with no action taken.
There were no objections.
RECOGNITION OF PUBLIC
There was no one who wished to speak.
The meeting was adjourned at 6:15 p.m.