Minutes

LOS ANGELES CITY ATTORNEYS ASSOCIATION
BOARD MEETING MINUTES

Meeting Date: July 24, 2006

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

I.  New Business

A. Time Sheet Entries

1.  Recording of Vacation and Sick Time

We recently learned that when processing a time sheet in which an employee reported sick or vacation time in half-hour increments, our Office rounded up the number by one-half hour so that the Controller’s Office could process the time sheet.  By doing so, the employee was not credited with a half hour of time the employee had worked.  This occurred because the City Controller’s payroll system cannot process vacation or sick time transactions in half-hour increments; members can only use vacation and sick time in hour increments.  All other time-sheet entries, including comp time, can be processed in half-hour increments.  The Controller is developing a new payroll system that will process vacation and sick time in half-hour increments, and members will be informed when the system is in place.

It is unclear whether attorneys were aware of this practice of rounding up sick and vacation time.  We have seen memos issued to relatively new employees indicating that such time needed to be taken in one hour increments.  There is also a side letter to our MOU which acknowledges that the parties will prospectively address allowing lesser increments upon the completion of the new payroll system.  The MOU and side letter agreement are available for viewing on the CAO’s website or on the LACCA site [www.lacaa.org].  Many members, however, were not aware of the inability of the Controller to process sick and vacation time in one-half hour increments, and submitted time sheets reporting sick and vacation usage in half hour increments.

 The Office has agreed to stop this practice, and will no longer round-up sick or vacation time reported in half-hour increments; instead, City Attorney management will instruct supervisors not to sign time sheets that record sick or vacation time in half hour increments.

The Board believes that attorneys who had work time deducted in order to round up sick and vacation time entries are entitled to a credit of the time that was erroneously deducted.  We agreed and will recommend to management that attorneys should be able to seek an adjustment for any such deduction during the preceding six months -- we selected the six month period since people seeking damages from the City must file a claim within 180 days of the event causing the damage.

We will continue to discuss this matter with management, and also recommend that City Attorney management send an e-mail or other document to all City Attorney employees to remind them of the limitations in claiming vacation or sick time, and advise them of the procedure by which to seek an  adjustment.

This incident illustrates the importance of communication.  LACAA became aware of this situation only after a member called to inquire.  If you have questions about working conditions or personnel policies, please feel free to contact one of the LACAA Board members or Bob Hunt.  We maintain the confidentiality of any call unless we have your consent to discuss the matter with the Office.

2. Use of Comp Time and Sick Time Prior to Resignation or Retirement

An issue was raised regarding whether there are restrictions on members’ ability to use accrued sick or comp time prior to separation from City service because of retirement or resignation.  The Board has confirmed with management that an employee may use all accrued comp time prior to separation from City service, and may use sick time if the employee is ill.

II.  Old Business

A. SEIU Activities

1. Preparation for Next Year’s M.O.U. Negotiations

Bob Hunt reported on SEIU Local 347's preparations for next year’s M.O.U. negotiations.  Besides meeting with its own members, Local 347 has been meeting with other City unions to build a unified coalition for the negotiations.  Currently there are three issues which seem to be of great concern to all employees:  (1) the IBEW-DWP pay package contains a base salary increase coupled with the potential for additional increases based on inflation factors; (2) the current retirement formula has fallen below that of many other public agencies including the DWP; and (3) the pay disparity in civil service classes between employees at DWP and employees elsewhere.  While the last issue does not affect attorneys because all attorneys, even those at DWP, are on the same salary schedule, our members have informally shared their concerns over the salary increase and pension issues. [Note: In either December or January, prior to the beginning of the negotiations in the Spring,  LACAA will formally survey members about what issues they want negotiated].

In August, Local 347 will send to its members in the four bargaining units it represents (consisting primarily of blue-collar and civilian security personnel) a ballot to vote on whether the members agree to an assessment of $5.00 per pay period for a one year period (a total of $120.00) to fund a negotiation and strike preparation fund.  The fund will be used to defray extraordinary expenses such as actuarial studies (pension), budget experts, public relations and other outreach activities.  The City Building Inspectors, who are affiliated with Local 347, will also send a ballot for the same assessment to its members.  The LACAA Board voted at its last meeting to participate and support the Local 347 preparation activities but will be meeting with members to determine the best mechanisms to do so.

Bob Hunt also mentioned that Local 347 will be sponsoring a picnic at Hansen Dam on August 20.  The picnic will be a fun event open to members of any City union, and their families, and  Local 347 hopes that it will also build unity for the negotiation campaign.  All LACAA members are invited and encouraged to attend.  Further information is available by calling the Local 347 office [(213) 482-6660] or checking their web-site [www.seiu347.org]

2. Proposed Consolidation of SEIU Locals

The International SEIU has decided to form a large regional local union to represent local government public employees.  The new local would combine members from six different locals and represent local government workers from San Luis Obispo to Orange County, and as far east as Riverside County.  The theory behind this move is that larger entities are needed to enable public employees to protect and improve their standard of living and retirement packages. 

The International will conduct a preliminary vote of all affected members on the idea of restructuring in September.  This vote would authorize the affected locals to begin the process to create a new entity.  Local 347 has been assured that the proposed consolidation will not affect upcoming Los Angeles City negotiations, and that given the large strike funds of some of the locals with which Local 347 would consolidate, it may benefit the Local in the negotiations. 

Local 347 will participate in the discussions regarding how the new local will be governed and appointed Bob Hunt to coordinate their efforts.  Bob also assured the LACAA Board that he will remain as our liaison in assisting with the representation of our members, as he has done for the past three years.  It should be noted that the affiliation agreement between LACAA and Local 347 allows the parties to terminate its relationship without cause.

B. ITA Changes

Board representatives met with City Attorney and ITA management to discuss the Office’s plans to introduce new computer hardware and software, and learned the following:

New Computers:  The City budget authorized the Office to purchase 577 new computers to replace the oldest computers.  Office management will decide how to allocate the new computers.   All users with the oldest computers will receive newer models, although not all will  receive the newly-purchased models. 

GroupWise:  The Office is phasing in a new GroupWise system, and has started the program in Worker’s Comp.  Under the new program, mailboxes cannot exceed 300 megabytes, and this will require some users to delete or archive e-mails.  In addition, users will not be able to save e-mails for more than 90 days without archiving the e-mails.  The Office will provide instructions on how to archive e-mails.  The users will more than likely not see any change in the new version of GroupWise.  The Office is also working to develop a back-up archive system to ensure that archived e-mails are not inadvertently lost.

Conversion of WordPerfect to Word:  The Office is intending to replace WordPerfect with Word, and after conversion SoftSolutions will not be available on the users’ PCs.  SoftSolutions will ultimately be replaced with Documentum, another document management system that will be used Citywide.  There will be a gap between the time documents are converted to Word and when Documentum is implemented in the Office, and during this time gap users will be able to save documents on a network drive.

Training: The Office will provide training to employees needing training in Word, and is considering a mixture of on-line training, a training manual, and in-person training.  The Office has identified employees to serve as business process advisors, who will  advise ITA re: the different needs of practice groups in the Office.  The Office has also identified approximately 50-60 Office employees to serve as Transition Aides, who will receive advanced Word training and will be available to help new users.  The Office is working to develop templates that will assist people using Word to create documents that are format-intensive, such as litigation documents.

Licensing:  ITA’s deal with the Word vendor includes 200 licenses for users to install Word software on their home computers at no cost to the user.  Thus, 200 users will be able to download or install Word at home.  This opportunity will not be available to MAC users, but only to persons with IBM-compatible systems.

Access to WordPerfect Documents:  After Word is installed, users will no longer have access to WordPerfect documents via their work computers.   The Office will maintain a limited number of computers (perhaps one at each work site or floor in CHE) that will allow WordPerfect document access. 

ITA will arrange for some WordPerfect documents to be converted to Word format; costs preclude conversion of all documents.  The Office and ITA have not ironed out all the details of the conversion, but ITA may print a list of all of a user’s saved documents, and the date that the document was last opened, and ask users to identify those documents they want converted.  Users may also send documents to their home computers to save, or save them on a CD or disc.

Access to E-Mail and Office Documents from Home:  Currently, users can only access GroupWise from home through a telephone line; users cannot access WordPerfect documents from home. The Office and ITA are experimenting with a system that will allow access to GroupWise and Word documents from home for a limited number of users.  The budget currently will allow 100 people to have access from their home,  and of the 100 users, up to thirty may have access at any one time.  The Office will ask for money in the next budget to purchase licenses for additional employees to have access from home, if needed.

The conversion from WordPerfect to Word, and other software changes, will not change access via hand-held devices.  Currently, access to GroupWise calendars are available for those with PDAs with Palm-based operating systems.  The City, not the Office, will allow e-mail access from City-issued Blackberries only, but this will not affect access from Blackberries not issued by the City.  Very few City Attorney employees have City-issued Blackberries. 

Criminal Case Management System (CCMS):  ITA has developed and is testing a new criminal case management system.  ITA tried to make it as similar as possible to the old system in order to minimize transition difficulties.  ITA conducted two training sessions to instruct Transition Aides to use the new system.  Currently at least two employees from each branch office are testing the new system.

C. UERP Hearing

The preparations continue for the UERP hearing scheduled for September. This hearing concerns the unfair practice claim LACAA filed with the City’s Employee Relations Board over a series of involuntary transfers.

 

 

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.