Letter to Terry Brechtel: September 13, 2001
City Manager, City of San Antonio
P.O. Box 839966
San Antonio, TX 78283-3966
September 13, 2001
Dear Ms. Brechtel:
Thank you for the opportunity
to meet with you and your chief staff last week. We are hopeful that we have
opened a dialogue that will be constructive for city workers on critical issues
about their status, wages, benefits, and rights to organize.
I would like to report
on our follow-up on some of the areas we discussed:
- I have e-mailed
the City Attorney and connected him to Local 100s attorney, Doug Young,
on the legal issues around employee liabilities. I do not know whether or
not they have talked yet.
- Karen Bahow, Local
100s San Antonio Office Director, is scheduled to meet with the director
of personnel next week to explore some of the access issues we have raised.
- We are seeking to
connect SEIUs researcher, Jack Schutzius, with the director of budget,
but he returned from vacation this last weekend and events have been impossible
in Washington, as you realize.
For the sake of clarity,
I wanted to reiterate our position on a number of the issues that we discussed:
- We believe that
no city worker should be paid less than the defined municipal minimum wage
of $8.50 per hour.
- We may have misunderstood
your position in our meeting, given subsequent public reports, but we believe,
as you now seem to as well, that temporary workers in the future should also
be employed at the minimum wage of $8.50, rather than $6.25 per hour.
- We believe strongly
that all workers who were paid less than $8.25 per hour over the last year
should receive back pay to make them whole to that figure, since the intent
of the action from our research and published comments by the former City
Manager indicate that this was the intent.
- We also believe
that all workers who have been incorrectly classified as temporary
workers longer than ninety (90) days need to be made whole with back pay,
seniority credits, and appropriate credits and payments for holidays, vacations,
and other compensated time which they were not allowed.
- We want to emphasize
that we include in this group of incorrectly classified workers needing to
be made whole, both temporary workers who are currently listed by the City
as temporaries past ninety (90) days, as well as all currently classified
permanent workers, who may have been incorrectly allowed to linger as temporaries
too long and therefore also need to be made whole. Clearly in many cases the
back pay liability will not be the difference to $8.25, but the difference
between the customary rate and increases in the positions compared to the
rate that the individual worker was paid as a inappropriate temporary.
- We also believe
that workers who have been incorrectly held in a temporary position past the
civil service rule should have any probationary period waived, having already
served too long in a similar limbo status.
We appreciate your expression
of openness on these issues and the fact that you are still reviewing our position
before making a decision. We do want to continue to meet directly to attempt
to resolve these issues.
At the same time we
are concerned, as we expressed, at several of the positions articulated in the
meeting, so we want to particularly impress on you our interest in continuing
to engage these issues with you and your office:
We believe that ninety
(90) days is more than enough for a city employee to be held in a temporary
status. We can imagine no public justification for 120 days or more. The fact
that personnel often ignored the civil service rule does not argue that there
was a need to do so. In most conditions the only argument for such a lingering
temporary status seems exploitative in order to reduce the citys financial
participation in its own employees. Two wrongs do not make a right in this situation.
- We agreed that no
incorrectly classified employee should be summarily dismissed. Our positions
seem divergent though. We believe that there should be no dismissals for misclassified
workers, and they should now be processed to their correct classifications.
We believe that any other position would be punitive and unjust. We also believe
prospectively that any temporary workers on staff now with less than 90 days
service should be handled strictly according to the directives and either
made permanent or dismissed based on a clearly expressed decision.
- Finally in the matter
of the workers rights to organize, join a union, enjoy payroll deduction,
have access to union representatives, we are optimistic from our exchange.
We appreciate that you indicated that you would hold in abeyance earlier theshold
correspondence, since in many cases the status of some cards we have submitted
should be accepted, and because of the incorrect way that access is being
handled in conflict with even the clearly stated, unambiguous policies of
the City. Local 100s Karen Bahow will try to make progress on many of
these concerns directly with Ms. Bernal.
A lot of work needs
to be done, but we hope that we can schedule a meeting in the near future -
before the end of September - in order to assess our progress and the relative
merits of our positions on these issues.
Please contact me directly
or our office in San Antonio at 226-1214 to schedule such a meeting.
Thank you again for
joining us in struggling towards some progress last week on these matters.