City manager started this fire, not employees | Letters | May 13
May 12, 2011 · 4:23 PM
In response to Jessica Hoch’s article, “Union fuels city dispute with unfair labor claim,” on May 6, actually, we didn’t start the fire. Brenda Bauer wasn’t forced out of her office with five minutes’ notice the week before Christmas like a common criminal. I was, however, along with several of my former coworkers on Bauer’s hit list.
First, we’re not whining about layoffs; we all understand the world we currently live in. Our outrage is caused by using an economic crisis as a subterfuge to target high-seniority workers. In urinating on our longstanding contract, the city stepped on what little protection we union employees had left – our seniority.
Bauer’s claim that seniority was irrelevant because practically everyone at the city had high seniority is not just wrong, not just a difference of opinion, it is a lie.
In almost every case of the last round of layoffs, each employee laid off had overall seniority, experience and seniority within classification which our contract strictly calls out. Reorganization was simply a ruse to get around the seniority within classification clause in the IAMAW contract.
As a former union steward, I know for a fact the years we fought the city as it tried circumventing seniority with meaningless changes in job titles and job descriptions without union negotiation as required by contract.
Never, however, had the city attempted a blatant disregard for our contract on this scale until Bauer’s arrival.
You know the sign in front of Town & Country that says, “Small Town, Big Heart?” I still believe that applies to most of the people of Bainbridge Island, after serving so many of them for more than 15 years. But the city? Different story.
Since council is in complete support of Bauer, it is clear that justice will have to be imposed from either an arbitrator or the Public Employment Relations Commission, and I still believe justice will eventually be done.