Meeting Date: November 15, 2005
Board Members Present: Bob Cramer (Vice-President), Mary Dennis (Vice-President), Michael Duran (Vice-President-Elect), Judith Reel (Secretary), Lisa Berger (Proprietary Director), Phil Sugar (Civil Director), Garcelle Embry (Civil Director-Elect), Rosemary Chavez (Criminal Director), Terri Siegel (Criminal Director)
SEIU Local 347 Representative Present: Bob Hunt (General Counsel)
I. New Business
A. Board Elections
The following submitted petitions to run for open seats on the Board: Shelley Smith for President; Michael Duran for Vice-President; Judith Reel for Secretary; and Garcelle Embry for Civil Director. There were no contested seats and accordingly the Board voted to approve the seating of the persons submitting petitions without the need or expense of formal balloting. Mary Dennis (Vice-President) and Lisa Berger (Proprietary Director) decided not to seek re-election, and the Board thanked them for their years of service to our members.
There were two vacancies for the position of Criminal Director, and one vacancy for the position of Proprietary Director. Rosemary Chavez sought appointment to one of the vacant Criminal Director positions, and the Board voted to approve her appointment. There remains a vacancy in one of the three authorized Criminal Director positions, and the Proprietary Director position. Anyone seeking appointment to one of the vacant positions should contact a Board member or SEIU, Local 347, General Counsel Bob Hunt.
B. Involuntary Transfers
Two days before the Board meeting members learned that five attorneys, all of whom work in the Proprietary Branch departments, were to be involuntarily transferred to new assignments. The affected attorneys were not consulted about the change and were provided with only two weeks to report to their new locations. The two weeks within which the attorneys had to prepare for the transfer included the Thanksgiving holiday. None of the five attorneys were managers or supervisors; all were line attorneys doing the legal work required by our clients. All of the affected attorneys have vast experience within the office as well as in their current assignments.
Board members were appalled by the involuntary transfers. Prior to this action, most attorneys in this office believed that if they performed satisfactorily, they could expect to continue in their assignments. Many members buy homes so that they can be close to their assigned work site, and have personal obligations scheduled around their duties and commute times. This forced transfer of five attorneys appears to be unprecedented in scope and taken without regard to their personal needs or preferences.
The forced transfers not only cause disruption and stress for the affected attorneys, it deprives all city attorneys of the opportunity to apply for the positions. The failure to green-sheet the positions belies management’s recent statements that they are committed to green-sheeting positions whenever possible.
When it learned of the transfers, LACAA served on management a written demand to meet and confer about the effects of the transfer on the affected attorneys. LACAA contends that such negotiation is mandatory prior to any transfer. In addition to the legal deficiencies in management’s actions, the letter noted that the manner in which the attorneys were notified was lacking in “elementary courtesy.” Any member wanting a copy of this letter should contact Board Secretary Judith Reel.
After the Board meeting, Board members met with Richard Llewellyn to convey our dismay and concerns regarding the forced transfers. At the meeting, the Board proffered a demand to meet and confer with management regarding its authority to effect a reorganization by way of forced transfers. The Board also demanded to meet and confer, prior to implementation of any transfers, on the effects of the transfers on the affected employees. Specifically, the Board requested a list of all attorneys to be transferred and a description of their current job duties and their new duties. The Board said that the information was necessary so that it could meet with the attorneys and determine whether they will need additional training and a different work schedule. At the meeting, Mr. Llewellyn articulated management’s belief that it has a right to effect a reorganization by way of forced transfers, and said it would get back to the Board on the issue of the practical consequences of the transfers on the transferred attorneys. Later that day management contacted Bob Hunt to tell him that management would meet and confer only on the issue of the attorneys’ new assignment starting dates, but on no other issue identified by the Board.
The Board voted unanimously at its meeting to authorize the filing of an Unfair Labor Practices Charge against management if it does not hold the proposed transfers in abeyance until after the conclusion of the meet and confer process. The Board will also consider taking additional action on the basis of the denial to all members of the opportunity to apply for the positions. The Board further asked Hunt to research other potential claims under the MOU and civil rights statutes, including those pertaining to age discrimination, relating to the involuntary transfer issue. The Board will keep members apprised of further developments.
C. Civil Branch Reorganization
Chief Deputy Richard Llewellyn met with a Board representative and Bob Hunt and informed them of management’s decision to announce the appointment of attorneys to fill the vacant position of Chief of the Civil Liability Branch, and one other position in management. The Board later learned of a planned reorganization at Workers’ Comp. whereby a managerial position was created, and that management had selected an attorney to fill that position. The Chief of the Civil Liability Branch position was green-sheeted, but the other two positions were not. After the meeting with Mr. Llewellyn, LACAA sent him a letter requesting that the announcement of the selections be postponed until after the Board could meet with him to discuss whether both positions were green-sheeted. The letter restated LACAA’s position that there be a transparent process for promotions with an opportunity for all qualified city attorneys to apply.
At the meeting with Mr. Llewellyn described above, Board members stated their belief that the two positions that were filled without a green-sheet process should have been green-sheeted. After the meeting, management contacted Bob Hunt to inform him that neither position will be green-sheeted. The Board will consider taking further action on the basis of the denial to all members of the opportunity to apply for the positions.
D. PAC Account
The Board discussed the rights of our members to “opt-out” of having their dues spent on political activities. Political Action Committee (“PAC”) monies are used to fund contributions to candidates and public officials. LACAA’s By-Laws allow the Board to make campaign contributions only for “Los Angeles City Council seats, Los Angeles City-wide Elections, and any initiative or ballot measure that directly relates to the purposes of the Association . . . .” By-Law Article 1, Section 4. During the last fiscal year, the Board transferred approximately $800.00 from its general fund into its PAC account.
The Board voted to authorize sending a notice to members identifying the amount of money transferred to the PAC account during the last fiscal year, and to allow members who did not wish to fund LACAA’s political contributions to request reimbursement of their pro rata share. It was estimated that each member would be entitled to reimbursement of approximately $1.50 for last year’s PAC contribution. The Board also voted to send such a notice to members annually to allow members to request reimbursement of their portion of dues transferred to the PAC account.
E. Attorney Training
Members discussed that some attorneys working in the branches are assigned to prosecute gang injunction enforcement actions without having the training and resources available to attorneys working in the Gang Unit. The Board will look into this matter, and will meet with management if it determines that additional training or resources are warranted. Attorneys concerned about a lack of training or resources that they believe are needed to adequately perform their jobs can discuss the matter with a Board member, and the Board will investigate and raise the issue with management.
F. Updated Sanctions Memo
The Office provided LACAA with a draft copy of an updated sanctions policy. The update generally combines two previously issued policy memos which provided guidance on avoiding sanctions and reporting relevant court orders. Bob Hunt provided the Board with an opinion that negotiations over the issuance of the updated policy were not necessary since the draft memo restates existing policy.