COMMENTARY BY JOHN MILARDO
Milardo is a former Middletown City employee and union officer.
The United Public Service Employees Union (UPSEU) Local #6457, the City of Middletown’s
Director/Supervisor’s bargaining unit, has filed a grievance on behalf of a female Human
Resource Manager working at the Board of Education.
The Union and City have an active bargaining agreement which contains a Labor/Management
The purpose of the Committee is to allow members a means of
having their jobs reviewed due to changes. There are other City Union(s) who have similar
language in their respective bargaining agreement(s).
The UPSEU Management Study Committee is comprised of two (2) members appointed by the
Union, two (2) members appointed by the City and one (1) alternate member mutually chosen
by the other members who may be an employee but not a Union member. The City’s Human
Resource Director is the Chairperson of the Committee and one (1) of the City’s Committee
(UPSEU Agreement: http://www.cityofmiddletown.com/content/117/121/161/1875/default.aspx )
If the Committee agrees that an individual is eligible to be heard after meeting certain criteria,
it then is presented to the Management Study Commission and then Common Council for a
Additionally, the City’s Human Resource Director (according to contract language) must
support the Committees recommendations to the Common Council members.
In the past, the Common Council has decided all job reclassifications are to be lumped together
for a single vote for approval or rejection. At the November 6, 2017 Special Common Council
meeting, there were three (3) UPSEU member positions which were recommended for
The only problem - there were four (4) UPSEU positions the Management Study
Committee recommended for upgrades. What happened to the fourth(4th) ?
According to City of Middletown Human Resource Director Thomas Tokarz, the BOE’s
Human Resource Manager position was removed from the Common Councils agenda because
the City’s General Counsel Sub-Committee (GCC) recommended it be re-examined. Now the
(video of Directors meeting. Begin at minute 24:10, to hear Director Tokarz’ remarks)
Director Tokarz was grilled by Councilmen Thomas Serra, Sebastian Giuliano, Phil Pessina,
Linda Salafia, Gene Nocera, and Carl Chisem regarding why the BOE Human Resourse
position recommendation was not on the agenda.
As one can see on the video, he had a
difficult time answering how this position did not receive an upgrade, and why it was not
brought forward. There is no legitimate answer why, with more duties, certifications, and laws
to follow than Mr. Tokarz’ position, the female employee is three (3) pay grades lower than his.
There also was no good answer of why he is recommending no wage increase for her position!
In defense of Mr. Tokarz, I believe he was given marching orders to kill her upgrade by
someone higher up on the food chain. The Human Resource Director’s supervisor/boss is the
Mayor of Middletown, Daniel T. Drew.
The Management Study Committee voted 5-0 in favor of all four (4) UPSEU position upgrades
to go before the Common Council for a vote. The Committee voted on deletions and/or
additional duties for each of the job descriptions, as well as what salary grade they should be
placed in. Why was this one person singled out? The City cannot say it is about the position
not the person. If that were the case, she would be in the same salary grade or higher than Mr.
Tokarz, not three (3) pay grades lower.
The Management Study Committee, just as the Human Resource Department, uses what is
called the “Maximus Study Report” for analyzing and grading employee duties and salaries.
This report has been utilized for many years to grade every City position. No matter how you
slice and dice it, her position should at the minimum, equal to her male counterpart. Somehow
the City will attempt to make claim the BOE position has somehow lesser value than Mr.
Of the four (4) UPSEU positions the Management Study Committee unanimously agreed to
support for upgrades, two (2) were male, one (1) is vacant, and the fourth (4) is a female. One
of the males is also Middletown’s Democratic Town Committees chairman, and the other is a
Dan Drew supporter.
One can only surmise the new hire for the vacant position will be a Dan
Drew supporter too.
I believe it’s called “pay for play”.
As a past Union president for the managers (I negotiated this contract Article), I can tell you the
Management Study Committee was adopted in an attempt to create a fair and even handed job
reclassification tool. The Mayor and the Common Council members are to have no input
during Management Study Commissions hearings. The Union hoped to form a Committee that
would help stop favoritism, discrimination, and other politically motivated actions. After this
fiasco, I guess we were wrong!
What transpired during the Common Council meeting is a clear violation of the labor
agreement. First, the City’s Human Resource Director did not support the decision of the
Committee as so ordered in the bargaining agreement. Secondly, there is no language in the
contract which stipulates anyone other than the Management Study Commission to review and
vote on their recommendations before they go to the Common Council for a vote. Third, The
Commissions recommendations did not go directly to the Common Council for a vote.
Why was the Board of Education Human Resource Managers position (a City job which works
for the BOE) sent to the General Counsel Sub-Committee for re-evaluation?
The GCC is not
part of the contractual protocol. The recommendations of the Management Study Committee
are to go directly to the Common Council for a vote…..no place else!
The Common Council
has tabled the vote on BOE’s Human Resource Manager because they had difficulty believing
the answers they received.
The City’s Chief General Counsel, Brig Smith stated in a Hartford Courant article, that he was
eager to have the grievance heard at the State of Connecticut’s Labor Department where he has
yet to lose a case. I guess City Attorney Smith already knows that Mayor Drew is going to
respond negatively to the grievance.
The Mayor is the Step 1 hearing officer of this grievance
and could stop all of this nonsense from happening. After all……Mayor Drew claims to be
labor friendly and all for equal rights. Or, is he showing that he believes that the glass ceiling
should not be broken for having women receive equal pay for equal work.
The Chief General Counsels statement regarding going to the State and never losing a
grievance is very disheartening. I would think, the City Attorney would be a person an
employee/Union could turn to if there was a case of discrimination, or other work policy
violation. Instead, he has a line drawn in the sand daring employees to open their mouth if they
are unfairly treated, bullied, or harassed. He holds a position of power which could end all of
the above-mentioned, but chooses to intimidate employees instead.
Why bother having Zero
Tolerance and Sexual and Other Harassment Policies! The Mayor and Chief Counsel can
eliminate unnecessary legal actions by employees who have legitimate issues. Instead they are
daring people to use legal recourse.
There are clear violations on the City side.
The only thing I can conclude, regarding why a
female employee at the Board of Education is not being paid the same as her male counterpart,
is gender discrimination, or Union affiliation!
The bargaining agreement stipulates all disputes
should be settled at the lowest possible level. In this instance, that would be by Mayor Drew.
Not doing anything to stop this discriminatory issue speaks volumes about the Mayor. Actions,
or in this case, inactions, speak louder than words!