Minutes

LOS ANGELES CITY ATTORNEYS ASSOCIATION
BOARD MEETING MINUTES

Meeting Date: May 25, 2006

Board Members Present: Shelley Smith (President), Bob Cramer (Vice-President), Michael Duran (Vice-President), Judith Reel (Secretary), Garcelle Embry (Civil Director)

SEIU Local 347 Representative Present: Bob Hunt (General Counsel)

I. New Business

A. M.O.U. Negotiations

All of the bargaining units represented by, and affiliated with, SEIU Local 347 have M.O.U.s that will expire on July 1, 2007. Local 347 represents four bargaining units, consisting primarily of the City’s blue-collar and civilian security personnel. In addition, three civilian bargaining units, LACAA, the City inspectors, and the Professional Manager’s Association, affiliated with Local 347. In addition to the M.O.U.s involving Local 347 members, the M.O.U.’s of many other City civilian employees, including those represented by AFSCME, will also expire on July 1, 2007.

Bob Hunt briefed the Board about Local 347's plans for negotiating the next M.O.U. Local 347 is meeting with other City unions, including AFSCME, the LA Firefighters Association, EAA, and the Laborer’s union, in an effort to coordinate a negotiating strategy. The affiliates of Local 347 are also meeting monthly to discuss the next negotiation. Given the large salary increase recently awarded to DWP employees, the relatively modest increase given to the rest of the civilian City workforce, and the larger pension provided to DWP employees than to other civilian employees in the City (DWP employees earn a pension of 2.3 % per year of service; all other City civilian employees receive 2.16% per year of service), the unions representing civilian employees in the City are making plans for coordinated negotiations.

Local 347 does not expect the upcoming negotiations to be easily concluded; the Mayor has made clear his intent not to award significant increases. Given the expectations of difficult negotiations, the Local 347 Executive Board has voted to create a Negotiation and Strike Fund. The monies in the Fund would be used initially to hire professional services such as economists, actuarials and others to help develop and support the unions’ position in the negotiations. To create the Fund, the 347 Executive Board authorized Local 347 to send a ballot to members in its four bargaining groups asking for support to assess for one year an assessment of $5.00 per person per pay period. Each member would therefore have paid $120.00 into the Fund at the end of the year (there would not be an assessment from the two no-deduction pay checks). The Executive Board also asked the three affiliate unions to request the same of their members.

The LACAA Board expressed strong support for the creation of a Negotiation and Strike Fund and there was a consensus that we should commit monetary resources to the upcoming M.O.U. and related negotiations, including pension negotiations. While Bob Hunt expressed the view that public attorneys would probably be prohibited from striking due to State Bar prohibitions against abandoning a client, the Board believes that our union should provide strong financial support to fellow-members who might be called upon to strike. The Board discussed the source of the financial contributions, and we considered tapping the Board’s current assets as well as asking for additional contributions from members consistent with those that will be made by the members of Local 347's bargaining units and other affiliated unions.

The Board decided to schedule informational luncheon meetings with members throughout the Office to solicit members’ ideas and comments about how to best support a Negotiation and Strike Fund.

B. ITA

Board representatives met with City Attorney management and discussed whether and how the City can enhance the ability of attorneys to work from home, and to receive groupwise e-mails and other Office information and documents on devices outside of the Office, e.g., on Palm Pilots and home computers.
We were told that ITA is working on enhancing the ability of attorneys to work from home and to obtain access to information on Office computers from outside the Office. Management is arranging briefing for LACAA Board members with ITA personnel, and we will inform you about the details of the City’s plans.

II. Old Business

A. Status Report re: Involuntary Transfers and Green Sheets

As discussed in the previous minutes, the Board filed an Unfair Labor Practices Charge with the City’s Employee Relations Board against management arising out of the forced transfers of at least five line deputies and selection of supervisors without providing members the opportunity to apply for the positions. The Unfair also identified as an unlawful act management’s subsequent refusal to meet and confer with the Union regarding the effects of the actions.

Management chose not to file a written response to the Charge with the City’s Employee Relations Board, and instead stipulated that the ERB should refer the matter for a hearing before a hearing officer. The ERB did refer the matter to a hearing officer during the ERB meeting at the end of April.

We were notified that the first two days of the hearing are scheduled for September 11 and 12. Given the complexity of the case and the number of potential witnesses, we believe that the hearing will last more than two days. We will continue to keep our members apprised of further developments.

B. Performance Recognition Program

At its last meeting, the LACAA Board voted to oppose the placement of managements’ recommendations made pursuant to the PRP process in personnel files; we believed that since there was no opportunity to review and rebut or appeal the recommendations, it would be unfair to employees to have the recommendations become a permanent part of an employee’s personnel file. Board representatives met with City Attorney management, who agreed not to place the PRP recommendations in attorneys’ personnel files.

The Board had a follow-up discussion regarding the standards used to review attorney performance in the PRP Process. We discussed whether a client’s opinion of an attorney’s performance weighed too heavily in the recommendation, or whether it was an important consideration. There was a consensus that if there is another PRP, we would request the Office to develop and articulate standards by which to review attorney performance.

C. SEIU Activities

The minutes from the previous Board meeting described a general proposal by the International SEIU to consolidate the SEIU California local unions that represent public employees. The International still has not yet informed the locals about the merits of consolidation nor the details of any proposal. Bob Hunt briefed the Board about a hearing in March held by the International to discuss consolidation, and a subsequent meeting at Local 347 with representatives of the International. Local 347 members and staff consistently expressed opposition to a consolidation at both events, and Local 347 has not yet heard from the International regarding its response to the meetings. We will continue to keep our members apprised of further developments.

D. Outside Counsel

At the last Board meeting we discussed the effects of contracting out work to private attorneys and whether and how the union could play a role in the process. The Board raised this issue in its regularly-scheduled meeting with management and were told that after publication of the State audit regarding our Office’s use of outside counsel, the Office has established new procedures and protocols. For example, when developing an RFP for outside counsel the Office consults with the client department and attorney involved with the matter. The Office also consults with both when selecting outside counsel to work on a matter. Management states that it has provided training regarding the use of outside counsel to attorneys whose practice often involves the use of outside counsel, and that they are willing to provide additional training to attorneys who did not receive it. Attorneys who are involved with outside counsel and who would like to obtain the in-house training should contact a Board representative or Bob Hunt and we will try to arrange for training. The Board also agreed that it might be in our members’ interest to develop proposals for modifications to the existing practices and submit the proposals during the next M.O.U. negotiations.

 

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.


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LACAA's President, send a request to lacaapresident@gmail.com.