Thursday, January 30, 2014

Milwaukee County Seniority Will No Longer Be Key Factor For County-wide Bumping During Layoffs

Chris Abele

New proposed Milwaukee County employee rules under Civil Service Rules could cut about 170 employees seniority, but will increase seniority for 330 of 500 affected.

By H. Nelson Goodson
January 30, 2014

Milwaukee,  WI - On Wednesday, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele sent out an e-mail to all County workers about proposed changes on seniority, County-wide layoff considerations, employment protection and reimbursement for work related expenses for non-County Safety workers. Abele in the e-mail wrote, "Unfortunately some of these potential changes in the proposal have been misrepresented and I want to take the opportunity to clearly lay out what these changes would do. These changes preserve employment protections for employees, and preserve other important provisions such as sick pay, shift differential, number of vacation days and pension and health benefits. Accrued seniority will be maintained, however would be considered on a County-wide basis. The proposal also continues important provisions such as reimbursement for work related expenses like seminars, license fees, and continuing education. Most importantly, the proposal does not take away any civil service or legal rights."
Since under the Governor Scott Walker (R) 2011 Act 10 law, County employees no longer can use a union for bargaining wage differences,  but have to file grievances with the Department of Human Resources (DHR) who have recommended changes in some areas in its Crosswalk report. Seniority will no longer be used as a basis to bump another employee on a County-wide basis, except within a classification and department facing a layoff, which eliminates the placement provision, according to Abele and the DHR Crosswalk memo proposal.
The new proposal for some Milwaukee County employees under the Civil Service Rules could actually result in the elimination of seniority of about 170 employees, but will increase seniority for 330 of 500 employees that will be affected. Those part time employees facing seniority cuts will maintain their straight earned hours, since they were hired.
The Crosswalk proposal doesn't eliminate the current differences in pay wage inequality, which some County employees with less seniority make more than those with more seniority and college degrees in some departments.
County employees will now have to get permission before they engage in extra work related expenses due to the availability of funds for reimbursements.
Abele says, "Over the last six months, HR held nine meetings to ensure open and informative exchanges with the representatives of the collective bargaining units.  As a result of these conversations, HR is proposing changes that will create a more uniform workplace for all employees, while preserving provisions that are unique to certain classes of employees. These changes clear up the current system where co-workers might have different rules, based simply on when, where and how they were hired. The details of these changes are reflected in what has been called 'the crosswalk'.
"The proposed changes would also standardize the employee grievance system, while still giving employees appropriate opportunities to grieve discipline. The changes also get rid of outdated rules that are burdensome for employees and no longer followed, but remain in the County's Ordinances. Amongst other results, these changes would reduce the wait time for hearing grievances and would give employees a direct line to HR representatives to address workplace issues," Abele wrote in the e-mail.
Abele wants the County Board to approve the proposed changes detailed in the Crosswalk report by next month.

Milwaukee County DHR Crosswalk report (PDF) at link:

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