Unions advise city of violations
COMPTON—The Compton Coalition of Unions has fired the first shot in the legal war it is planning against the city.
Coalition attorney Anthony Segall has sent a letter addressed to City Attorney Craig Cornwell, Mayor Eric J. Perrodin and the City Council members, outlining the initial summary of legal positions, based upon the investigation of the matters under concern. It also mentions specific legal actions that will be taken if those concerns are not addressed.
“As a public agency covered by the Meyer- Milias-Brown Act, the city has an obligation to meet and confer in good faith with the bargaining representatives of its employees regarding matters within its scope,” the letter said. “The city’s conduct both before and after the July 19 Council meeting has made a mockery of the bargaining process required by the MMBA.”
The Meyer-Milias-Brown Act promotes full communication between public employers and their employees by providing a reasonable method of resolving disputes over wages, hours and other terms and conditions of employment between public employers and public employee organizations, Segall said in the letter that City Manager Willie Norfleet took the July 11 proposal from the unions that offered approximately $6.7 million in concessions in return for a freeze in layoffs, which was a “comprehensive bargaining proposal,” and created a group of budget amendments that constituted another offer that had not been considered by the unions.
The adoption of these amendments, he said, is a derogation of its bargaining units under the MMBA, and the requirements of the existing memoranda of understanding with the coalition.
“The Coalition plans to file an unfair employment practice charge with the Public Employees Relations Board, and will seek appropriate injunctive relief to restrain the irreparable harm flowing from the city’s illegal conduct,” Segall said.
The Ralph M. Brown act, which governs meetings conducted by local legislative bodies, he said, was also violated. The act requires the agenda to be posted 72 hours in advance before the meeting in order for legislative action to be valid.
“The secret budget amendments produced by Norfleet and distributed to some, apparently not all, of the council members immediately before the meeting were not part of the agendized budget item,” Segall said. “This last-minute change is precisely the type of irregular practice prohibited by the Brown Act.”
The letter said that if the Brown Act violation is not corrected within 30 days, the coalition will seek injunctive and declaratory relief declaring the Council’s budget null and void.
“Section 1103 of the Compton City Charter requires the city manager to conduct periodic studies of the classification and grading of positions which must be considered and adopted by the personnel board. The city has not conducted those studies,” Segall said.
Section 1107 of the charter requires that when the city abolishes a position or reduces the number of employees in a given classified service, all layoffs must be governed by seniority in reverse order of employment. Re-employment must be in the reverse order of the layoffs.
The letter also alleges that the city has made numerous temporary and interim appointments since at least 2007, which have exceeded the city’s appointment power.
Segall said that individuals serving expired appointments have remained in exempted positions of classified service, and it is almost certain that any proposed layoffs will not be in seniority, as required by charter section 1107.
“Despite many requests, the coalition has not seen a final list of proposed layoffs,” he said. “We have been informed the assembling of the list has not been governed by neutral civil service principals, but by the desire to target particular employees for layoff, including union officers and activists, based on unlawful and retaliatory moves.”
The Compton Bulletin has requested the list of laid off positions from the city clerk’s office, and was told it would not be available until the city had the final list of people who were planning to retire. Comments from union members were not available because of the memo issued on July 21 advising employees that comments could lead to termination.
Emails to the city attorney’s office and the city manager’s office seeking comment had not been returned as of press time.