After meeting over 30 times in the last 8 months On November 16, 2011 In accordance with Employee Relations Board Rule 9.02, the City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana filed with the Employee Relations Board a unilateral written notice that the Engineers & Architects Association; representing the Administrative Unit (MOU 1 ), the Supervisory Administrative Unit (MOU 20), the Technical Rank and File Unit (MOU 21), and the Supervisory technical Unit (MOU 19) had reached impasse on major issues in the-meet and confer process on a new Memoranda of Understanding for those four bargaining units.
EAA has made claims the city has attempted to bargain in bad faith and impose certain conditions upon the membership of EAA without a vote.
We will present the facts clearly for the members of EAA to decide if anyone is bargaining in Bad Faith or if they need to demand a vote on the “Last, Best, Final” offer by management.
Issues in Dispute
Terms and conditions of employment as contained in MOUs 1, 19, 20 & 21 as related to:
Redefinition of Overtime Threshold
Lowering the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) exempt status to all employees making over $85,000. Anyone making over $85,000 would become an exempt salaried employee.
Suspension of Bonus Payments
Temporary suspension of some bonus payments which the city can ultimately eliminate.
Health Care Premium Sharing
Once rejected by EAA members, after a second vote it was ratified by EAA Members we examine the Health Care Premium sharing issue.
This would simply continue the 5% share of medical costs the members approved, Coalition members have agreed to nearly 10 million in cost sharing in 2012 & 2013 as well as numerous concessions.Here are some quotes on the issue the last time it was debated. Former Executive Director Michael Davies “If there is no agreement, and the city should seek to declare an impasse, since they are already armed with a declaration of economic emergency, the city could proceed swiftly to impose unilateral terms and conditions of employment on our members that could easily include a 10 percent employee contribution to health care and other ‘take-aways,’”
EAA declared “It’s not enough simply to say no and feel that somehow this storm is going to be weathered and that within 12 months or 24 months the city will be back into a situation where they can afford to provide a 100 percent subsidy for a healthcare premium,” said Davies. “Those days have ended.” “It was clear the city could no longer subsidize us at 100 percent,”
Matt Szabo previously stated “… the city is likely to impose these healthcare provisions and more on those who opt out of the deal.”
Retiree Health Care Contributions
Engineers and Architects Association signed a letter saying that it is not “categorically opposed” to a larger contribution toward its retirement benefits in coming years reported the LA Times, now EAA is seeking to avoid the Retiree health care contribution that nearly all other unions have agreed to pay in order to secure and vest retiree healthcare.
This issue does not have the same legal standing that the Coalition members including the LACAA had;
EAA entered into an agreement to move retirement benefits into the MOU arena most likely altering the vested status accepting benefits (reduction of furlough hours,etc.) in exchange for the promise of future contributions. Courts have long ruled benefits negotiated can also be modified or ended without the protections of vested benefits.
EAA would Not be facing the court with the same case, nor would they be standing on the same legal grounds the City Attorneys would be. It is the Opinion of LA City Workers.com that at this time EAA Members do not hold a vested right in the same manner City Attorney and others who rejected the deal did.EAA Members gave up the vested benefit knowingly entering it into the MOU arena thereby removing the Vested benefit protection. Arguments could be made to defend the vested status but they are far less likely to succeed then the challenges by those units which rejected the deal.
It would be misleading to present to the members a situation where they believe the city is attempting to impose upon them something new, when in fact these are previously agreed to items. It is unfortunate that the leadership at the time lead the members down the path of concession, for these sins the membership will pay for many years to come.
It is the members decision what steps to take, but all of the facts must be honestly and openly debated, one can not paint the Office of the CAO as the villain when the facts are clear EAA is obligated to bargain in good faith and can not ignore the contractual obligations it has entered into. This is something which will be debated in the ERB on the 19th of December and I do not see how EAA could prevail with the information I currently am reviewing.I am NO fan of the CAO, but in this case it would appear he is not attempting to gain much from the members which he doesn’t have a right to. Members need take notice of these events regardless of union as the same mistakes could be made and cost them serious financial cuts in the future. If organized collectively with sworn and civilian we send a message that the cuts are done we can move forward otherwise the CAO will continue to implement his 3, & 5 year plans at the expense of the apathetic workforce, become involved and elect strong leaders, end the participation of those who voted in favor of concessions immediately ad understand that as union members we either participate or we face the consequences.
We are not lawyers, we present a legal opinion as a matter of discussion only and look forward to a lively debate. Attorneys feel free to comment.
From the Legally binding Agreement signed and entered into by the City and EAA:
LETTER OF INTENT
TECHNICAL RANK AND FILE – MOU 21
LACERS AND RETIREE HEALTH BENEFITS
Management and the Engineers and Architects Association (EAA) mutually
acknowledge the dramatic increase in the cost of the LACERS pension program, and
that the retiree healthcare benefit is one of the driving forces behind the increased costs. EAA acknowledges that Management has set a target employee contribution rate of 9% for active employees, and that Management is (1) actively exploring creation of a LACERS “Tier 2” pension program for new hires; and (2) preparing a proposal which would require that current retirees contribute financially to reducing the cost of their healthcare benefit. EAA acknowledges that an increase in employees’ LACERS contributions will be proposed by Management as part of the successor MOU negotiations which will begin in Spring, 2011. EAA has no categorical opposition to an increase in active employee contribution rates, and acknowledges that this is an issue to be bargained. EAA, which does not represent retired City employees, does not object to retirees contributing financially to reduce the cost of their healthcare benefit to LACERS.
ARTICLE 1.4 FULL UNDERSTANDING
Management and the Association acknowledge that during the meet and confer process, each had the unlimited right and the opportunity to make demands and proposals on any subject within the scope of representation and that this MOU constitutes the full and entire understanding of the parties regarding all such demands and proposals. The parties mutually understand that any prior or existing understandings or agreements by the parties, whether formal or informal, are hereby superseded or terminated.
The parties mutually agree that this MOU may not be opened at any time during its term for any reason, except by mutual consent of the parties hereto.
It is mutually understood that any changes mutually agreed to shall not be binding upon the parties unless and until they have been implemented in accordance with Article 1.3.
The waiver or breach of any term or condition of this MOU by any party hereto, shall not
constitute a precedent in the future enforcement of any of its terms and provisions.
These acknowledgements covered the following units: Bargaining Units Administrative Unit (MOU 1), Supervisory Administrative Unit (MOU 20),Technical Rank and File Unit (MOU 21), Supervisory Technical Unit (MOU 19)