(September 17, 2002) -- Almost 200 managerial level employees of the City of LB -- nearly 60% of City Hall's managerial staff -- have voted to pursue creation of a collective bargaining unit under the Long Beach Management Association (LBMA).
An LBMA press release indicates the group (officially formed in October, 2001 when its nine member board adopted bylaws) has a mission and objectives that include "advocating compensation that is competitive with the local municipal employment market to attract and retain an innovative and effective management team."
The release quotes LBMA president Kevin Prelgovisk as saying over 200 management level employees attended a meeting last week at which 192 cast votes in favor of creating the employees' group.
An LBMA press release indicates the group represents 327 managerial level employees (192 "yes" votes are about 58% of this total). [As separately reported by LBReport.com, a Sept. 13 memo from City Hall CFO/Dir. of Financial Management Robert Torrez [written in another context for salary comparison purposes] indicated there are 311 city managerial employees: 240 under the City Manager plus 71 (including elected officials) in other city departments.]
The LBMA release adds that by becoming a recognized employee organization, the group's mission is further expanded to:
"Protect the quality of City services by retaining our ability to attract and keep excellent managers
"Promote rational discussion of management compensation through a recognized negotiations process
Improve communication between the City's management, the City Council, other employee organizations and the citizens of Long Beach, and
Provide a positive, cohesive voice for the City's management team."
The next step in the group's organizing process is for the State Mediation and Conciliation Service to conduct an election in early October; results will be sent to the City Council to certify the organization.
As previously reported by LBReport.com, LBMA president Kevin Prelgovisk testified at highly charged September 3 Council meeting which voted 6-3 (Carroll, Colonna, Reyes-Uranga dissenting) to schedule a special Council meeting the next day to conduct a performance review of City Manager Henry Taboada. [At the Sept. 4 closed session meeting, the Council voted 9-0 to dismiss Mr. Taboada effective Oct. 4].
Roughly 90 minutes after the Sept 3 Council vote that scheduled the special meeting at which Mr. Taboada could be dismissed, Mr. Prelgovisk rose to testify during the course of Council budget discussions.
Mr. Prelgovisk described his group's mission as to "increase the proficiency and development of City of LB managers in order to strengthen the quality of city services through professional management" and advocate that their "compensation remain competitive with the local municipal employment market in order to attract and retain an innovative and effective management team."
Mr. Prelgovisk decried a "spate of press coverage that portrays our management team in a very unflattering way, and we're not pleased to read those characterizations because we know that of our 270 some members, we know the good work that they're doing, the hard work that they're doing to serve the community." He said city management works "extremely hard every day, day in and day out, through good times and bad, to make Long Beach a better place to live and work."
Mr. Prelgovisk said much of what has been advocated in the press has been "arbitrary" such as "cut management salaries across the board by 10%. There's no framework provided for that. It's not part of an informed discussion. There's no discussion about what managers actually do. In fact, if you go back and read those articles, you'll see that conspicuously absent from them is any mention of what we do. Basic concepts like management level of responsibility, span of control over staff and financial resources, level of education and professional experience, comparability with equivalent private and public sector positions...just aren't there...We think that while it may be cathartic and make some people feel good to jab the management team,...it's a very shortsighted and ill considered strategy. If you want maintain, attract and retain this talented group of people and others like them, who are doing the work the work to keep the city running, we urge you to consider fully what the impacts of such a cut would be."
Prelgovisk urged the Council "take into account all of the facts."