To the Editor:
I voted against Mayor Dan Drew's government reorganization incentive plan offered to the Teamsters and the non-bargaining directors because I feel that it's not a good move for the city. However, I also believe that the employees that opted to retire should not be blamed or faulted in any way for making their decision to retire.
I'm actually surprised that more didn't take the offer! Even though there is an memorandum of understanding between the city and the union, retirement incentives are not generally negotiated; it's usually offered to the union by the administration as a take it or leave it situation; and since unions are in the business of looking out for their members' best interests, they agree.
Now, I feel that the incentive was not a good move because for the city to save money, they need to not replace the retiring employees at the same level that they were at. Mayor Drew has said that he's only replacing those employees that are required by law and those in key positions. Also, he promised that for the January Common Council meeting he would bring forward his plans for the reorganization that he has in mind.
However, so far, most of those positions vacated have been replaced by employees appointed in the acting capacity including the Deputy Personnel Director being appointed as Acting Personnel Director. I realize that employees were promoted so that down the chain of command there are vacancies; however, this was not what was presented as the reason for the incentive: the incentive was presented to allow for reorganization.
So tell me: if you put people into the vacant positions with the exact same job descriptions and duties as the retiring employee had, how are you going to change those positions or eliminate those positions through a reorganization without affecting the employee in the position?
Seems to me that you're back to the same status that you were at before the incentive: an active employee in the position that you wanted to modify? Seems to me that prior to the incentive, if you'd modified the job and the active employee didn't want to do the modified job, they could have retired; now you've got employees in the position that you want to modify that it's eligible to retire and will have to take a new job, reduced pay or something — I just don't see that happening.
That's why I think that the reorganization should have come before any retirement incentive.
By the way, we were promised that the plans would be presented at the January meeting but nothing. I'll add it to the list of things I'm waiting for: the report on the outcome of the China trip; the actions taken after the report on the Water and Sewer Department issues. Although I have read the report by the committee on government efficiency, it has not been actually presented to the Common Council for approval and implementation.
Simply the administration could share with the whole council a flow chart of proposed hierarchy of departments and reorganization. Hopefully, one has been done by now.
Another, reason that I've problems with the incentive that was offered: it's huge brain drain on the city. There were quite a few 466 employees who retired over the last few years and now with these retirements, the city is losing much of its historical knowledge. Seems to me that you're going to be repeating mistakes already made; these are the people who know what's been tried before and worked and what didn't.
Not to say that things can't necessarily be done differently, but you just extended the learning curve significantly and can we as a city afford that? I certainly do not in any way shape or form, blame those employees who accept this incentive and wish them all well! They all serve the city well and the city is in debt to their years of service. I for one am sorry that they retired.
Republican Common Councilwoman Linda Salafia, retired payroll/pension supervisor, Middletown
(Who Gets What? Drew Cleans House with Retirements lists who has retired).