Receive and Determine Process for Hearing Appeal of Grievance Decision Regarding Interpretation of General Staff Bargaining Unit Memorandum of Understanding


Meeting Date:

June 20, 2005

Budgeted:  N/A





David A. Berger,


Contingency Account


General Manager

Line Item No.:




Prepared By:

Cynthia Schmidlin

Cost Estimate:

Up to $1,000.00


General Counsel Approval:  Yes

Committee Recommendation:  The Administrative Committee reviewed this item on June 9, 2005 and recommended approval.

CEQA Compliance:  N/A


SUMMARY:  On May 13, 2005, Laborers’ International Union of North America Local 270, representing three members of the General Staff Bargaining Unit (the Union), submitted an appeal of the General Manager’s decision regarding their grievance.  The grievance concerned interpretation of the Health Benefits section of the General Staff Bargaining Unit Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in the case of those employees who opt-out of the District’s health insurance coverage. According to the Grievance Procedure in the MOU, the Board shall determine whether it will hear the appeal or appoint a hearing officer for this purpose. 


A.        If the Board determines to hear the appeal, it will set a time and place for such hearing and provide notice for the appellant. 


B.         If the Board determines to appoint a hearing officer, the hearing officer shall be mutually agreed upon between the Board’s representative and the Union. The hearing officer may be a single member of the Board, or an outside individual. 


C.        In the event that the Board decides to appoint a hearing officer, the General Manager and the Union have tentatively agreed on Peter Lujan, a Mediator from the California State Conciliation and Mediation Services to hear the appeal. 


At the conclusion of the hearing, the Board or the hearing officer shall prepare a summary record of the proceedings and prepare findings, conclusions and decision.  If the Board determines that a hearing officer will hear the appeal, the hearing officer shall submit a copy of said record and draft finding, conclusions and decision to the Board. The Board then has 30 days to adopt the findings, conclusions, and decision of the hearing officer or reject the recommendations of the hearing officer and adopt its own findings, conclusions and decision after a review of the record.


If the Board wishes the General Counsel to assist them in their consideration of the appeal or with their consideration of the recommended findings, conclusions and decision of a hearing officer, District counsel may not also advise staff on their presentation at the appeal hearing.  Outside counsel would have to be retained for this purpose.  Ms. Ellen Aldridge, of Avery Associates served as a District representative during negotiations on the current Memorandum of Understanding with the General Staff Unit. She assisted in crafting the opt-out provision of the Health Benefits section that is currently being questioned.


RECOMMENDATION: That the Board appoint Peter Lujan of the California State Conciliation and Mediation Services as hearing officer in the event that they do not decide to hear the grievance themselves.  That the Board authorize contracting with Ellen Aldridge of Avery Associates to advise staff on their presentation at the appeal hearing.


IMPACTS TO STAFF/RESOURCES:  There will be no cost associated with the services of Peter Lujan serving as a hearing officer, as this is a function state Mediators perform in the performance of their regular duties. Fees for outside counsel, Ellen Aldridge, would amount to an estimated range of $630.00 to $1,000.00.


BACKGROUND:  The Union stated their proposed grievance on interpretation of the Health Benefits section of the General Staff Bargaining Unit MOU in a letter dated February 15, 2005.  Cynthia Schmidlin, Human Resources Analyst, met with the employees and their Union representative on March 4, 2005 to discuss the issue informally.  After conferring with Rick Dickhaut, Chief Financial Officer, regarding the substance of the employee’s complaint, Ms. Schmidlin advised the Union that the Administrative Services Division interpretation of the MOU would stand.  The Union appealed this decision to the General Manager.  On April 1, 2005, David Berger met with all parties, sought information and heard arguments. On April 8, 2005, Mr. Berger issued his determination in the matter and denied the grievance.  In a letter dated May 13, 2005, the Union advised the General Manager of their intention to pursue their grievance through the final step of the process in an appeal to the Board.