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    Council OK's First-Ever MOU With LB City Mgt. Union

    (April 21, 2004) -- At its April 20 meeting, the City Council voted 7-1 (Reyes-Uranga abstaining and Baker absent for meeting) to approve LB City Hall's first-ever agreement (a memorandum of understanding or MOU) with a collective bargaining organization (i.e. a union) comprised of most of LB City Hall management.

    The "Long Beach Management Association" doesn't represent the City Manager (who works under contract for the City Council) or a small number of others working directly with him or the managers of some enterprise funds (like the Water Dept.)...but it does represent a lengthy list of city management positions (identified in the MOU, which we post on a link below).

    In a memo to Councilmembers approved by City Manager Jerry Miller, Human Resources Director Kevin Boylan (not a member of the management union) said cost savings under the MOU should total slightly over $1 million in FY 05.

    Those MOU savings are in addition to downsizing and management cuts contemplated as part of City Manager Miller's three year financial strategy.

    [ note: We neglected to make the point about additional planned management reductions and savings clear in our editorial fuming about scheduling a Council vote on the MOU (negotiated in March, ratified by the management union on March 30) on April 20, a week after the April city election. We acknowledge that management's three year financial strategy anticipates further management reductions and savings beyond the MOU's expected savings. However, we're still fuming about the timing of the MOU vote and lack of visible Council discussion of its potential long-term taxpayer consequences.]

    Mr. Boylan's memo to the Council stated in pertinent part:

    The negotiated MOU with the LBMA represents Fiscal Year 2004 (FY 04) savings to all City funds and the General Fund in reduced near-term benefits, and will help to achieve the savings targets projected in the Three-Year Financial Strategic Plan (Plan. ) The savings to all funds in FY 04 are approximately $58,000 of which approximately $41,000 is to the General Fund. These savings are in-line with the goals established in the Plan and the Adopted FY 04 Budget as part of the Employee Compensation, Benefits and Work Practices category. Annual savings beginning in FY 05 and beyond will be significantly greater than those for FY 04 due to employee participation in the costs of health insurance and retirement benefits. The expected annual savings are approximately $1,082,000 for all funds and $531 000 for the General Fund for LBMA-represented positions. When the unrepresented management positions not covered by the LBMA are included, total annual savings as a result of this action will increase to $1,240,000 for all funds and $640,000 for the General Fund.

    There was scant Council discussion of the item (number 53 on a 63 item agenda). 8th district resident Lew Nelson (a member of the City Hall-appointed "Government Reform Task Force" mulling changes to the City Charter) spoke in his individual capacity and was the only person to testify. He spoke in opposition.

    "I'm not here to speak against the content of the memorandum of understanding. I am here to speak in opposition to the concept of this [MOU] which will give bargaining rights to the Long Beach Management Association...I ask you to delay voting on this matter until the next Council meeting so we can get more public input...I'm concerned with management unions in general...I'm not opposed to bargaining units for employees but I have a serious problem with bargaining units with management people," Mr. Nelson said

    The following is the verbatim response of 8th district Councilman Rob Webb:

    ...I talked to Lew as one of my constituents and we've talked earlier today and I understand where his concern is as somebody that's been in management for a long time and the precedent that it's setting, having a management organization. And the fact of the matter is, and it's a sad day I think for me, that the realization that our management felt that this was something that was necessary based on the actions of our City Council. And I guess that's kind of a sad comment to say. However, we're at the situation where we're at now. I think the comments that Mr. Nelson was trying to make is that it seems that perhaps this is, you may not be able to unring a bell so to speak, and once we ratify arbitration that is something that will, this will be a day that will kind of be in infamy for a long time.

    Not to say that management association, they gave back a lot in this negotiation, and I want to recognize them and thank them. This is a, indeed a day in history for the city of Long Beach. It's somethin' new that we have never ratified or never voted on, and I'm sorry to see that felt that it was necessary to move in that direction. Again, I don't know how you unring that bell and how we unring the events that have took place in the past. I think it is appropriate comment for a couple of people in my community who have said that it's unfortunate that we are moving in this direction with a management association.

    Councilman Webb then voted for the MOU.

    The final vote was 7-1; Reyes-Uranga abstained; Baker was absent for the entire meeting.

    The MOU expires on Oct. 1, 2004.

    To view the MOU in pdf form, click here.

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