Minutes

LOS ANGELES CITY ATTORNEYS ASSOCIATION
DRAFT BOARD MEETING MINUTES

(Minutes not formally adopted until next meeting)

Meeting Date: February 12, 2002

Board Members Present: Shelley Smith (President), Liz Greenwood (Vice President), Jule Bishop (Treasurer), Judith Reel (Secretary), Bob Fratianne (Criminal Director), Marsha Berkowitz (Civil Director), Renee Laurents (Civil Director), Eskel Solomon (Proprietary Director). Eleven other Association members attended.

I. Old Business

A. Contract Negotiation:

Shelley Smith reported that the EERC ratified all terms and conditions of the tentative contract agreement. The contract must be ratified by a majority of the voting Association members and the Council.

The substantive changes between the tentative contract and the former contract include the following:

1. elimination of the wall between the Deputy City Attorney I and II level;

2. a 2 percent salary increase every six months for five six-month periods, followed by a 3 percent raise;

3. effective the second year of the contract, up to $80.00 dues reimbursement for joining the LA County Bar or a State Bar subsection; and

4. an increase in comp time carry-over from 160 hours to 200 hours; comp time will be calculated on a calendar year basis rather than fiscal, to enable attorneys to take accrued time off during the slower summer months.

Management withdrew its demand for contractual provision for a bonus-pay program and stated that the status quo would continue with regard to merit and promotion.

B. Public Records Act Request:

In December of 2001, the Association delivered to Terree Bowers a written demand for the documents identifying all persons hired by City Attorney Delgadillo. In January of 2002, Shelley Smith was provided with a copy of a document showing all attorneys employed by the City Attorney.

A discussion ensued regarding whether the Association should issue a Public Records Act demand to management to provide additional personnel information pertaining to the salaries of all city attorneys and/or attorneys hired by City Attorney Delgadillo. The following issues were discussed:

1) Importance of Information to Evaluate Career Prospects:

It appears that management is hiring attorneys without public sector legal experience at the pay scale levels of Deputy City Attorney IV and Assistant. Such advanced-placement hiring will preclude for an extended period of time promotions and/or merit step advancement for existing attorney staff. Attorneys who intended to make a career of service in this Office are disadvantaged by the fact of diminished opportunities for promotion, and information on this issue may be critical to success in analyzing and evaluating long-term career decisions.

2) Importance of Management’s Acquiescence to the Law:

The roster of Office personnel and their classification and step placement are matters of public record. There has occurred substantial demonstration that management has flouted its legal obligations with respect to the Association, so there is a substantial purpose in serving a formal demand for the purpose of compelling management to honor its legal obligations with respect to the Association.

3) Privacy Concerns:

There is concern for the privacy of Association members and for considerations re public disclosure of salary positions. However, classification and step placement, and the salaries associated with each classification and step, is already public information, published every few years by local newspapers and listed by the City on the Internet.

It was agreed that it was important to compile the information regarding personnel hired and promoted by management, and their classification and step placement. Jule Bishop stated that management had recently promised to provide her with such information, and believes that the Board may already be in receipt of such information. The Board voted unanimously to send a letter to management confirming that assurance and requesting prompt compliance. The Board will discuss at next month’s meeting whether and how to disseminate the information.

C. Web Site

Jule Bishop reported that the web site is available for viewing and that the Association will send a letter to its members informing them of the address. The web site address is: http://www.lacaa.org. A member suggested modifying the website for controlled member-only access. Jule Bishop noted that it would be expensive to modify the website to ensure member-only access, that it would require intensive monitoring of the site, and that no one could ensure that management would not have access. The Board welcomes the suggestions and help of Association members to improve the site.

D. Financial Report

Jule Bishop stated that she obtained errors and omissions insurance for the Board through Lloyds of London, and that she filed 1099 forms with the Association’s accountant. It cost $4300.00 to insure the Board for one year.

II. New Business

A. Allegations of Unlawful Management Behavior

Unilateral Imposition of Disciplinary Standards Arising out of Attorney Sanctions

At the standing managing assistants’ meeting on January 24, 2002, Terree Bowers announced implementation of a new disciplinary policy pertaining to sanctions against attorneys: He stated that any attorney who is sanctioned must report the matter to a supervisor, who in turn must prepare a written memorandum to Mr. Bowers describing the incident. The sanctioned attorney must then personally meet with Mr. Bowers, after which the memorandum memorializing the incident shall be placed in the attorney’s personnel file.

Management did not meet and confer with the Association regarding this new disciplinary policy; it unilaterally announced and implemented the policy. It is well-settled that placement of a memorandum in a personnel file constitutes a "disciplinary action" under the Myers-Milias-Brown Act, and thus any policy establishing a disciplinary procedure is subject to mandatory bargaining.

The consensus of those present is that management is generally -- and perhaps willfully -- ignorant of the laws pertaining to its legal obligation to bargain in good faith about terms and conditions of employment. This view is consonant with the near wholesale lack of public sector experience by any key persons at the executive level of management. However, there is compelling evidence that this violation of management’s legal obligation is not simple negligence, but purposeful, in that it is contrary to an explicit and specific promise made personally by Chief Deputy Terree Bowers to the Board that there would be no discipline policy re sanctions without first engaging in the meet and confer process as required by law.

The Board voted unanimously to (1) send a letter to Terree Bowers demanding an explicit rescission of the sanctions policy announced on January 24, and (2) post a notice to members stating that any member required to meet with Mr. Bowers or any manager or supervisor regarding court-imposed sanctions is by law entitled to the presence and participation of an Association representative at that meeting. If management does not formally rescind its policy, the Board will file an Unfair Labor Charge. Any materials placed in any members’ personnel file pursuant to the January 24 policy will be grieved pursuant to the MOU.

Attempt to Dominate and Control Union

It is per se illegal for management to act in any manner that interferes with internal union business, or to attempt in any manner to control or dominate a union. There have recently occurred several instances which suggest management interference in Association affairs, specifically matters pertaining to a pending recall petition. Specifically: at a community luncheon in the Harbor District a senior executive manager observed as the recall petition was circulated and proffered to Association members, creating in some members an impression of management interest and support for the petition, and resulting obligation to avoid management disfavor by signing the petition.

In the weeks before the petition was handed to the Board, a member of senior management spoke to a deputy city attorney and explicitly deprecated the ability of the President of the Association to represent the Association in light of the petition for recall. Further, the member of senior management related in detail the substance of the complaints of those who circulated the recall petition. It has not yet been determined the means by which executive management was apprised of matters pertaining to the recall attempt, although there are procedural means by which that information can be discovered.

Further, at a bargaining session, this same member of executive management expressed skepticism about the President’s authority to speak for the Association.

Persons who spoke expressed anger at the apparent connection between executive management and the recall petition. It was noted that such conduct by management is unprecedented in this Office and unsavory and unseemly by a law office that bears the legal responsibility for advising other departments of the City -- indeed, the City as a whole -- in matters of the law pertaining to management/union affairs. The Board will consult with its counsel and consider filing an Unfair Employee Relations Practice charge before the City’s Employee Relations Board.

B. Recall Petition

A petition was presented to the Association asking for a recall of the Association President. The basis of the petition were complaints regarding the manner in which ballots were received and counted.

The petition does not acknowledge that the president was not present and did not participate in the receipt or counting of the ballots.

The Board appointed a sub-committee to determine the sufficiency of the petition and to report at the next Board meeting its recommendations for action. Sub-committee members are Secretary Judith Reel, Criminal Director Bob Fratianne, and Civil Director Marsha Berkowitz. Shelley Smith abstained in the vote to create and instruct the sub-committee. Bob Fratianne opposed any action other than rejecting the petition for deficiencies on its face. All other board members present voted to proceed with the sub-committee as instructed.

C. Peer Advocates

Currently, only Board members and Christine McCall (formerly Patterson) are authorized to represent employees in disciplinary matters. Judith Reel stated she would like to recruit others in the office to serve as peer advocates, and to receive training in the representation of employees. It was agreed that the Board will actively recruit attorneys to serve as peer advocates, and any attorney desiring to serve is asked to contact a Board member. Senior attorneys are especially encouraged to share their training, experience and judgment with their colleagues in this manner. Christine McCall will participate in the training.

D. Possible Union Affiliation

Judith Reel proposed exploring an affiliation with a larger union and inviting interested unions to speak to the Board about affiliation. The view was expressed that given management’s demonstrated hostility to career attorneys, it may be in members’ best interests to be represented by a professional union rather than one staffed by volunteers. Shelley Smith said she was aware of the recent affiliation of the Los Angeles Professional Managers Association ("LAPMA") with SEIU; she believed that the members’ dues did not increase, and that LAPMA retained a large degree of autonomy.

It was agreed that as a preliminary matter the Board will invite Julie Butcher of SEIU and Charlie Mims, President of LAPMA, to a Board meeting to discuss issues pertaining to affiliation. Due to the time demands caused by the contract ratification and the need to timely act on the recall petition, the Board unanimously voted to ask Ms. Butcher and Mr. Mims to appear at the April Board meeting.

E. Insufficient Number of Bulletin Boards

Judith Reel stated that on the 16th floor of City Hall East, due to an insufficient number of bulletin boards, people are often placing non-union materials on the bulletin board dedicated to union matters. In addition, on one floor in the Reyes building there is only one bulletin board, and it is so crowded with posted materials that it almost impossible to discern the Association materials. Shelley Smith stated that management is obligated to provide sufficient billboards, and it was agreed that the Board would send a letter to Jennifer Kreiger asking her to rectify this failure.

 

 

As you know, our new MOU includes annual reimbursement for MCLE-related expenses. To ensure that you receive complete and timely reimbursement, we encourage you to follow the instructions contained in the MCLE protocol provided by City Attorney Management. You must complete and submit a reimbursement form in order to receive reimbursement.

You can reimburse expenses related to attending MCLE programs that are accepted by the California State Bar, even if the program takes place in another state. Eligible expenses include the cost of the program, travel, and per diems.

Please be judicious when choosing lodging and which food/drink expenses you submit for reimbursement.


The Board is pleased to announce that LACAA has retained the law firm of MASTAGNI, HOLSTEDT, AMICK, MILLER & JOHNSEN as General Counsel.