Councilman Grohn Says Right To Work Group Examining New MOU Signed By Mayor Berke For SEIU City Union; Says Berke "Is In An Ivory Tower"

Monday, March 24, 2014

City Councilman Larry Grohn said Monday that a national Right to Work group is studying a 22-page memorandum of agreement signed by Mayor Andy Berke giving sweeping new rights to the Service Employees International Union, Local 205.

The Right to Work group is the same group that is involved in an effort to seek to block the United Auto Workers from gaining representation for Chattanooga Volkswagen employees. 

Councilman Grohn told members of the Pachyderm Club, "It will be your tax dollars paying for 600 hours of union members speaking to employees of the city."

He said aspects of the agreement "are similar to what we have heard from a certain official in Washington. It's the same we have in our ivory tower on 10th Street."

Saying he had no advance notification of the MOU, Councilman Grohn said the Berke administration promised to have the most transparent administration but he said has turned out to be the most secretive.

He said, "I've been blackballed by the mayor since last October."

He stated, "Supt. Rick Smith tried for three weeks to get an audience with the mayor."

SEIU has had a limited presence at the city in recent years, but it will be much more involved in city government under the new agreement.

Under the three-year pact, it is agreed that any organizational wide pay increase or benefit change will not be proposed by the city without allowing a sit-down meeting with SEIU leaders over the proposed changes.

The union will also have say-so on any city personnel policy changes.

The union is to be provided full information on employee names, ID numbers, job classification, job title, dates of hire, department, division, section, race, gender and rate of pay.

The city is also to provide the union with an update of new hires or terminations.

When a compensation study is undertaken, SEIU will be at the table.

Under the pact, the city is to recognize union "stewards" at the workplace.

Union officials are to be granted access to employees on the job site after conferring with department heads.

The union will have the right to post notices on city bulletin boards, and the union can hold meetings with employees before or after scheduled working hours and during breaks and lunch.

An employee who has received any form of discipline will be given an opportunity for SEIU to intervene or his or her part.

The agreement calls for the union to be allocated 600 hours of release time with pay each year to be used for the stewards to attend conventions and meetings, stewards' training, to make presentations of up to 20 minutes to new employees, to exercise rights of access to city property and to conduct worksite meetings.

Mayor Berke agreed that the city will continue deducting union dues from city paychecks.

No form of intimidation or retribution is to be taken against an employee who signs up with the union.

The agreement says it is "entered into between the parties with the understanding that the city of Chattanooga, like all Tennessee municipal governments, has no statutory authority to enter into binding agreements with its employees."

It does not apply to fire and police or members of the mayor's office, the city attorney's office and department of human resources employees.

There is an agreement not to strike or have a work stoppage.

City officials said the city "has had an MOU in place with SEIU for several years. The joint MOU from 2007 expired when the previous administration left office.

"The MOU only applies to “employees who desire to be represented” of the general government non-exempt employees. At this time, SEIU represents about eight percent of total employees. The city of Chattanooga has 927 employees eligible to be represented by SEIU and, of those, 210 are currently members.

“The Union is to be provided full information on employee names….” - SEUI would have access to eligible public personnel records just as, any other media outlet or private individual would have.

"The bottom line is we work with employees groups every day, like the FOP, IAFF, IBPO, SEIU and more, to ensure we have a motivated workforce. Employee groups represent our employees so that they have feedback on policies and participation in important decisions that affect them. A good example of this was the recent pension discussions where employees were represented by employees groups who were present through every step of the process. In addition, an MOU with SEUI is nothing new. The city of Chattanooga has had an MOU in place with SEIU for several years and it applies to those employees who desire to be represented.”


Partnerships Finding Success Stopping SNAP Fraud

The Tennessee Department of Human Services welcomed its 19th law enforcement partner in an ongoing initiative to fight abuse of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly Food Stamps).  These State Law Enforcement Bureau agreements between the TDHS and agencies give investigators more tools to catch business owners who are fraudulently using another person’s ... (click for more)

Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond To Address Hamilton County School Board Tonight

Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond will address the Hamilton County School Board and HCDE Officials at their regularly scheduled meeting tonight at 5:30 p.m.   The meeting will take place at the HCDE Board Room, 3074 Hickory Valley Road.   A copy of tonight’s agenda can be found here .  (click for more)

Avoid Underage Drinking And Other Prom Drama

My high school prom took a dramatic turn when two guys got their tuxedo jackets mixed up. One of them belonged to my date, who kindly offered to keep my wallet in his pocket. That’s the jacket another young man mistakenly grabbed off the back of a chair before heading to an underage drinking party that got shut down by police well after midnight—as kids scattered in every direction.  ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Famed Freitas Speech

Several weeks ago a member of the Virginia House of Delegates (that’s what Virginia calls the state legislature) stood up and before that body responded to a claim by a Democratic lawmaker that Republicans were pro-Second Amendment and segregationists. Nick Freitas, who did two tours in Iraq with our Army’s Special Forces and has talked candidly about losing friends to terrorist ... (click for more)

Cleveland State Baseball Tops Piedmont College JV In Doubleheader

Cleveland State baseball took on Piedmont College's JV squad in a doubleheader  on Wednesday . The Cougars swept the Lions, winning game one by a score of 10-3 and game two by a score of 9-3. Ryan Inches was on the mound for the Cougars in game one, pitching 6 innings allowing 2 earned runs while striking out 6. Inches received the win, moving his record to 5-1 on the ... (click for more)

Lee Lacrosse Wins 17-12 Over Montevallo

The Lee lacrosse team exacted some revenge after an earlier season loss to Montevallo in winning their first home conference game 17-12 over the Falcons on a windy and cold Wednesday afternoon at the South Quad Field.   "We have been working hard all week preparing for this rematch with Montevallo. The girls put a lot of time and energy into correcting the little mistakes ... (click for more)