Friday, December 1, 2017

It's A Man's World

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 Reclassification Committee.

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 members. (UPSEU Agreement: )

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 vote.

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 upgrades.

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 “show” begins. (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. Tokarz. 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… 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!

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