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Largest City Employee Union (IAM) Wins Proposed Order From Public Employment Relations Board ALJ Concluding City Hall-Imposed Furloughs Violated State Law (Without Bargaining To Agreement or Impasse) And Ordering City To "Make Whole" Employees "Adversely Affected"; City Att'y Will Recommend Appealing Proposed Ruling In Upcoming Closed Session

City Att'y will recommend appealing proposed ruling in upcoming Council closed session


(June 6, 2012, 11:38 a.m.) -- In a development with potential fiscal and political impacts, Long Beach City Hall's largest city employee union (Int'l Ass'n of Machinists or IAM) has prevailed (at this point) in an Unfair Practice Case it brought against the City of Long Beach with the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB), whose designated Adminsitrative Law Judge has concluded that the City violated state law by failing to bargain to agreement or impasse before imposing management recommended, Council-majority approved city employee furloughs in 2009.

The stinging remedy in a June 1 Proposed Decision, the ALJ orders the City to cease and desist "from implementing furlough policies without negotiating to agreement or impasse with the IAM," to rescind the City's furlough resolution of May 5, 2009, AND "to make whole those employees adversely affected by the unilaterally implemented furlough policies."

Responding to a request for comment by, City Attorney Bob Shannon stated in an email to

"We will be taking this to the City Council in closed session on Tuesday. At that time we will be recommending that the City appeal to the PERB Board and, if necessary, thereafter to Court. It is, and will be, our position that the City's financial condition dictated the action it took, and that the imposition of the furloughs was fairer to employees and more consistent with the need to supply appropriate city services to the public than the alternative of extensive employee layoffs."

PERB's ALJ concludes in his proposed decision that while the City presented "convincing evidence of difficult financial circumstances" it "has not...proved a financial emergency in May 2009 when it implemented the furlough policies." It notes that City Hall's Director of Financial Management "recognized an evolving financial crisis more than six months earlier" in October 2008...while the City Council didn't adopt a resolution actually declaring a "fiscal emergency" until July 2009, two months after implemening the furloughs.

City management proposed furoughs were approved by the City Council on May 5, 2009 by a 7-2 City Council vote (Schipske and Reyes Uranga dissenting). The Council approved a second substitute motion made by Councilmember (now Vice Mayor) Suja Lowenthal, seconded by Councilman Dee Andrews, "to support staff recommendation, with the exception of mandated equivalent savings rather than furloughs for Police and Fire; and adopt Resolution No. RES-09-0042." (Yes: Garcia, S. Lowenthal, DeLong, O'Donnell, Andrews, Gabelich and Lerch; No: Schipske and Reyes Uranga).

To view video of the spirited discussion, click here

The IAM is the city employee union which received a taxpayer-costly "pension spike" as a result of two mid-2002 Council votes (agendized under then Mayor Beverly O'Neill for the last day of an outgoing Council and the first day of an incoming one). The 2002 Council action was criticized by Mayor Bob Foster in his 2006 election campaign (borrowing the term pension potholes" from Mayoral candidate Doug Drummond) and the "pension spike" has likewise been criticized by Councilman -- and current Congressional candidate -- Gary DeLong.

Two major city employee unions (LB Police Officers Ass'n and LB Firefighters Ass'n) have since agreed to city management/Mayor sought changes to their previous contractually-negotiated pension payment formulas (producing budget savings for City Hall and taxpayers) but as of today (June 6), IAM and City Hall haven't publicly come to terms on that issue...and IAM isn't legally required to do so.

That's because City Hall agreed to a five year (instead of the previous usual three year contract) with IAM recommended by Mayor Bob Foster in May 2008, which the City Council approved in a 7-2 vote (Gabelich and DeLong dissenting). That Council vote was preceded by a now famous exchange in which Councilwoman Gabelich turned to City Manager Pat West and asked bluntly, "How are we going to pay for this?" Apparently unpersuaded by the city manager's response, Councilwoman Gabelich voted "no"...and was joined by Councilman DeLong who likewise voted "no" on the IAM agreement.


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