Most employees at Bainbridge Island City Hall will pay more for their health care insurance next year under a proposed contract between the city and one of its union.
The city council will consider the three-year agreement, and possibly approve it, at the council’s next meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 17.
The union contract will cover 63 employees, including planners, court clerks, public works crews and others.
The agreement between the city and International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District Lodge 160 spans the time period from Jan. 1, 2012 to Dec. 31, 2014.
During the life of the contract, city employees will pay more for their health insurance premiums. In the first year of the agreement, the city will cover 100 percent of staff health insurance premiums, and 90 percent of spouses’ in 2012. Starting in 2013, however, employees will pay 5 percent of their own premiums and 15 percent of the premiums of their spouses or significant others.
The city will pay 100 percent of the costs for dental and vision health coverage for employees and their families.
Regular salaries will also be modified by the new contract. City employees will receive a pay raise of 1.5 percent that will retroactively kick in on July 1, 2012.
Employees who are asked to cover other jobs will also get more pay. Workers who are shifted to another job classification for more than a day will receive “out of class” pay; an additional 5 percent increase in their hourly rate.
The new contract also includes education benefits. At the discretion of the city manager, employees may attend college classes and be reimbursed for tuition and book expenses. Employees must pass courses with a grade of “C” or better to be eligible for reimbursement.
Strikes are highly discouraged in the proposed agreement. The union and its members agree not to stop or slow down city work. The city may also discipline or discharge employees who break the contract’s strike clause, while the city also agrees not to lock out any employees.
The council’s next meeting is 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 17.
PORT ANGELES — The husband of a candidate for Clallam County Public Utility District commissioner has filed a complaint with the state Public Employment Relations Commission over his being fired by the PUD for allegedly violating the district’s residency policy.
Timm Kelly is president and business manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 997 and is the husband of Cindy Kelly, who is running against PUD commission President Ted Simpson, the owner of Angeles Electric in Port Angeles.
Timm Kelly, who was fired April 6, filed the complaint last week accusing the PUD of unfair labor practices over his dismissal, public utility district General Manager Doug Nass told the commission in a statement Monday at the commission’s regular meeting.
An outside investigator determined that Timm Kelly violated the district policy by living outside the boundaries of the Forks service area while collecting a stipend of more than $550 a month for living in that area, Nass said in the statement.
This began occurring after 2010, when he became the Local 997 president and business manager.
Nass said Friday he would not comment further on the complaint.
“However, this information is largely described in public documents and may be available through a public records request,” Nass said in the statement.
Kelly applied for unemployment benefits after he was fired, saying he had been wrongfully terminated and was denied benefits.
After an administrative law judge denied his appeal of the determination, Kelly filed an unfair labor practices complaint with the Public Employment Relations Commission.
The judge said that Kelly, “by his own admission,” slept at his Forks residence “approximately 20 percent of the time” after becoming the top union official in 2010.
“Statutory misconduct has been found to exist,” the judge said in the ruling, according to Nass.
Timm Kelly did not return calls for comment Friday.
His wife, Cindy Kelly, who also ran against Simpson six years ago and lost by 299 votes from among 19,453 cast, was at the PUD meeting when Nass read the statement, she said Friday.
“I’m Cindy Kelly, and I’m running for Clallam County PUD, and my election has nothing to do with my family, just like it didn’t six years ago when I ran,” she said Friday.
Her reaction to Nass’ statement?
“I thought it was interesting and timely,” Cindy Kelly said.
“It was timely because we’re in a campaign season. The whole situation is timely.”
Cindy Kelly said she and her husband have homes in Port Angeles and Forks but would not comment on how much time they spent at the Forks residence.
The PUD was obligated to update the commissioners in public, PUD spokesman Mike Howe said Friday.
“This was an issue being addressed in executive session, but when this particular employee filed the complaint, it essentially made it public and, based on our understanding, didn’t meet the requirements of an executive session,” he said.
“This is how we had to do it.”
Local 997 also filed a grievance over Timm Kelly’s termination.
A hearing on the grievance is scheduled to be heard in a hearing before an arbitrator in December, Nass said.
“The district believes that its action terminating Mr. Kelly’s employment was appropriate and is neither unlawful nor in violation of the collective bargaining agreement,” Nass said.
“The district intends to vigorously defend its actions, in both the grievance hearing and the PERC proceeding.”
With our various levels of government grappling with revenues falling short of expenses, there is a long overdue focus being put on the state of government labor. The recent Chicago teachers strike should be seen as an example of the excesses of government unions. Reporting lumps all unionization into one category, and there is no distinction expressed between private and public unions. Public sector unions are different from private unions in that they have no “Free Market” competition to keep their demands in line. In addition, the cozy relationship between the Democratic Party and public unions create a conflict of interest for elected officials.
In the private sector there are market restraints on what a union can demand. If UPS (union) workers demand too much in compensation as to render their company non-competitive with FedEx (non-union), they will lose business. This puts a “real world” restraint on what these unions can demand in terms of compensation and benefits. Corporations can go out of business, which obviously would hurt the union employees. GM & Chrysler notwithstanding, this market mechanism works well. Government has no competition, and is in effect a monopoly in terms of the services that it supplies. Therefore, there is no similar control placed upon public sector union demands. If government workers go on strike, where else can consumers go to get their drivers licenses?
With the lack of market forces, taxpayers must rely exclusively upon management to say no to costly demands. The managers who are sitting on the other side of the negotiating table are elected officials. There is a political party, however, that is beholden to the very government unions they are supposed to be negotiating with. The Democratic Party receives an overwhelming amount of money in political donations from public sector unions. In fact, their top 4 donors are various government unions. Many candidates go to union sponsored events, and pledge their support for union causes. If a candidate for office received a donation from a corporation, then after being elected, gave a lucrative no-bid contract to that corporation it would be called corruption. How is this situation any different?
Considering most government entities (other than federal) must balance their budgets every year, you would think that politicians would be restricted from offering paybacks to the unions. They can’t give what they don’t have, right? The problem with this argument is that the official has the ability to promise, and get passed into law, retirement and health benefits that will be paid for in the future. This takes away any current budgetary restraint that may exist, and puts us in the situation we find ourselves today all across the nation.
Our country is reaching a tipping point with all of the debts we have built up, and there needs to be a sober national conversation on these problems. Without market forces, and the taxpayer representatives beholden to the unions, what chance do we have? Nobody wants to talk about cutting pay or benefits, but the costs have simply gotten out of hand. The taxes that will need to be levied to support this kind of uncontrollable spending will hit all Americans. This issue is at the core of what kind of country, and opportunities we will pass on to our children.
Boeing Co. says it may rely more on engineers at less-expensive sites outside its Seattle jet- manufacturing hub unless it wins competitive labor costs in union contract talks.
While the planemaker is keeping a renewed focus on engineering supported by Jim Albaugh, the former commercial planes chief who pushed to empower the group after delays on the 787 Dreamliner, the core doesn’t have to be in Puget Sound, Mike Delaney, the company’s chief engineer, said Wednesday.
“Seattle is a love-hate relationship for me,” he said. “I love pumping all the money into my team, but now we’re in the same place as southern California and the Washington, D.C., area in terms of cost to do engineering. Those are the three most expensive places in the country to do engineering.”
Boeing’s engineers not only design new planes, they inspect those being built and have to sign off on the work before aircraft are delivered. Their contract expires Oct. 6, and any labor action would interrupt work flow during a record production increase, so the planemaker must balance that risk with negotiating cost savings.
Talks so far have been contentious, with disagreement strongest over Boeing’s plan to switch new engineers to a 401(k)-style retirement benefit rather than a pension, according to the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace.
Speea, as the union is known, represents about 23,000 Boeing workers, mostly based in the Seattle area. Its 15,000 engineers make an average of $110,000 a year, while 8,000 technical workers covered under the same contract earn an average $79,000.
Other U.S. cities where Boeing has engineering operations are less expensive, Delaney said, including St. Louis, Philadelphia, Houston, San Antonio and Mobile, Ala.
Managing costs is important to Boeing as it trims expenses in its defense business amid Pentagon spending cuts. In the commercial division, the planemaker is trying to improve productivity after racking up billions of dollars in extra charges from delays to the Dreamliner and the new 747-8 jumbo jet.
Boeing is bringing some design work back in-house after acknowledging it outsourced too much on the 787 and lost control of the program. The company has been working to revert to a more vertically integrated system like the one with its original 777 program, said Delaney, who was the 787’s chief engineer.
“We’re committed to the Puget Sound,” he said. “But we also have access to the Boeing corporation.”
Engineers in Philadelphia were critical in fixing the 787’s problematic side-of-body joint, and the company’s space team in Houston and engineers in Huntsville, Alabama, helped with the Dreamliner’s new electrical power system, he said.
Speea argues that having engineers working side-by-side with assembly-line workers is crucial to development. Boeing assembles its 737s in Renton, just south of Seattle, and its 747s, 767s, 777s and 787s in Everett, to the north, along with a new 787 plant in South Carolina.
“Everybody who worked on the 787 will tell you that the vast majority of problems came from lack of coordination due to the separation of engineering from manufacturing,” said Ray Goforth, Speea’s executive director. “To have Boeing resurrect this failed model to threaten employees into accepting pay and benefit cuts is the most disrespectful thing I’ve heard yet in these negotiations.”
Delaney said compensation will be higher than it is now, though the gains won’t be as large as in the last contract in 2008.
Speea has gone on strike at Boeing only twice since its founding in 1946: for one day in 1993 and 40 days in 2000. Goforth has said Boeing was more accommodating last year in negotiations with the Machinists, who have walked off the job four times since 1989.
Following the last strike, in 2008, the planemaker decided to build a commercial-jet plant outside the Seattle area for the first time. It chose South Carolina, a state that forbids requiring union membership as a condition of employment. The new factory rolled out its first 787 five months ago.
Boeing has also made other shifts away from its historical hubs. In 2001, the company moved its corporate headquarters to Chicago from Seattle, where the company was founded in 1916. Earlier this year it decided to shutter operations in Wichita, Kan., where it has built military airplanes since 1929.
Delaney says he’s looking 10 to 15 years ahead and wants to ensure his engineers are still competitive in the defense market in particular. Other defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin Corp., Northrop Grumman Corp. and United Technologies Corp. have restructured and cut costs, he said.
“It sounds like what he means is ‘cheapest,'” Speea’s Goforth countered. “That’s different from ‘competitive.'”
Sumner’s choice for a new city administrator is already a familiar face in City Hall – former police chief John Galle, who has acted as interim administrator since Diane Supler’s departure this last spring. Supler left her position abruptly; documents obtained in a Courier-Herald investigation show signs of a conflict with Mayor Dave Enslow.
In a special meeting on Monday, July 9, the Sumner City Council voted 5-2 to offer Galle a contract to be the permanent city administrator.
During the special meeting, councilmembers and resident Jon Swanson (the only resident present at the public meeting), lauded Galle’s commitment to Sumner and believe he has done a good job as interim administrator. The employment agreement passed 5-2, with Randy Hynek and Nancy Dumas voting no.
Dumas said that a lack of related experience to the city administrator position and no official review of his job performance thus far are the main reasons for her “no” vote.
“During the past few city administrator’s times of employment, the city didn’t face such critical financial external and economic constraints. I would not have put such great emphasis on fiscal experience requirement of an administrator at that time,” said Dumas. “However, the city is currently working on its biennial budget for 2013-14 and [Galle’s] apparent lack of fiscal experience with such a large budget has me concerned. “
Galle has retired from the Sumner Police Department, but he has not yet signed the administrator contract. Deputy Chief Brad Moriecke is now acting police chief.
Galle holds a Masters of Arts in History, and a B.A. in history for secondary education. He worked at Tacoma Baptist School as a teacher and administrator from 1988 to 1996. He was hired as a Sumner patrol officer in 1997 and rose through the ranks until he was named Chief in 2007.
Dumas believes the matter should have been voted on during the council’s regularly scheduled meeting date, so more members of the community could be made aware of the decision. Hynek seconded her idea to move it to tonight’s meeting, but the motion was denied by the council.
“The vote on John Galle’s approval should have happened at Monday’s regular council meeting so it would be open and transparent to our citizens,” said Dumas. “Instead, it happened before Monday’s study session at a city council special meeting after an executive session. Neither disclosed John Galle’s position as the topic.”
As city administrator, Galle would assist Enslow and the city council in the planning, organization and administration of all government functions, and supervise the city’s administrative and financial departments. He would ensure that city work will conform to city ordinances and state law. Responsibilities also include attending various civic and business meetings on behalf of the city, building the city council agendas and directing the annual budget preparation, among other responsibilities. He would report directly to Mayor Enslow.
If Galle accepts the city administrator position, he is set to make $10,726 per month ($128,712 annually) for 2012, but starting Jan. 1 2013, he will receive a step increase, which will place him at the top of his pay scale, according to the approved contract. He will be a salaried city employee with full benefits and not eligible for overtime.
If the city decides to terminate Galle, the city has agreed to pay him a lump sum cash payment equal to 6 months of pay ($64,356), according to the contract. Or, the city can give him 6 months notice that he will be terminated. The only instance where the city would not pay Galle 6 months of pay would be if Galle were fired for reasons of personal gain or a felony act.
If Galle decides to resign, he will give the city a minimum of four weeks notice.
Galle will be able to accrue and utilize vacation leave, and was given 80 hours with the approval of his contract.
Galle will be evaluated at least once a year by Mayor Enslow, in accordance with performance criteria determined by Enslow and Galle. The criteria may be “added or deleted from time to time… in consultation with Mr. Galle,” according to the document.
The Bainbridge Island School District has reached agreement with its teachers’ union on changes to their existing contract that will modify the timing of early-release days for students.
District officials said the switch in early-release days from once a month to weekly will give teachers crucial time for professional development, given the district’s focus on new initiatives and staff improvement requirements.
Early-release days will move to Mondays each week, and students will be let out 90 minutes early starting with the 2012-13 school year.
In the past, students were dismissed 180 minutes early during one Wednesday in the middle of each month.
The changes to the collective bargaining agreement with the Bainbridge Island Education Association were approved by the school board at its last meeting.
Peter Bang-Knudsen, assistant superintendent of administrative services, said the contract changes were bargained during a mid-year re-opener.
“Usually the contracts are for two years, and so we had a couple of limited items that were re-openers. So we made some changes to the existing contract and some letters of agreement,” he said.
The contract covers approximately 250 certificated employees in the Bainbridge district, and the agreement runs through the next school year.
The entire contract will be renegotiated next spring or summer, Bang-Knudsen said.
Mondays were chosen for the early-release day to fit with the schedule at Bainbridge High School, district officials said.
The district plans on transitioning its early-release days to Wednesdays for the 2013-2014 school year.
Other changes to the union contract include an offset for the 1.9 reduction in wages for certificated staff for the 1012-2013 school year, and the start of a pilot program for a new teacher evaluation system in the coming school year. Participants would include provisional staff, members of the evaluation committee and a randomly selected group of certificated employees and volunteers.
The school board also agreed to delay the creation of a committee to address independent and contract studies and online courses until the 2012-2013 school year.
The Pierce Transit board is poised to roll the dice again on the sales tax increase voters defeated in 2011. The odds look better this time, but the agency will have to first produce a union contract that won’t anger the taxpayers.
The measure on the ballot a year ago February failed for several reasons, economic distress being the chief of them. Tens of thousands of households were – and still are – suffering from loss of income and outright unemployment.
The agency failed to convince voters that it had done enough to squeeze its own expenses. That perception was fueled by the 4 percent salary increase Pierce Transit had previously bestowed upon its drivers, mechanics and other unionized employees, many of whom were already well-compensated by any standard.
Another problem was the fact that many people in the outlying parts of the transit district, especially in East Pierce County and on the Peninsula, were getting too little bus service for their tax money.
That issue that been addressed – by amputation. Effective last month, Pierce Transit dramatically pulled in its boundaries, lopping off 30 percent of its territory.
Gone now are large swaths of the eastern and western county, including Orting, Bonney Lake, Buckley and DuPont. The surgery removed the areas most opposed to the three-tenths of 1 percent sales tax that last year’s measure would have imposed.
That boosts the new measure’s chances. Advocates can also point to the fundamental importance of transit service.
Bus riders include ordinary commuters, but also the poorest of the poor, people with disabilities and students. According to Pierce Transit’s customer surveys, 56 percent of them have household incomes lower than $20,000 and 45 percent of them don’t have a functioning car. For many, the bus is the only way they can get to jobs, grocery stores and medical clinics.
Pierce Transit buses are still plying the county’s urban arterials, but the economic downturn – and the resulting squeeze on sales taxes – has forced sharp cuts in routes and service hours.
The new three-tenths of 1 percent tax proposal headed for the November ballot would restore what’s been lost – and a whole lot more if the economy starts booming again.
The board isn’t interested in a more modest two-tenths increase, which might have succeeded last year and could be an easier sell this year.
But the biggest risk arises from the negotiations between the agency and the union. They’ve dragged on for many months and may wind up in arbitration.
Until the contract is settled, voters won’t know how much of the new taxes would go to restore service and how much to higher compensation. For that matter, if the contract is settled – but looks too fat for lean times – count on a backlash.
That’s not conjecture; it’s a sure bet.