Brought to you from the U.P. of Michigan! I'll blog about many subjects, concerning many different kinds of subjects. All for one purpose, to gain the truth about things happening in and around the UP of Michigan.
Wednesday, October 12, 2016
Iron Mt, Michigan Fire Dept Questions City In Facebook Post?
The following post was made to Facebook on October 12, 2016 via the Iron Mountain Fire Department Facebook page. It addresses the city of Iron Mountain's decision to remove the Civil Service section from the city's charter via voting this November.
local political activist has been very vocal in his opinions about the
vote to remove the Civil Service section from Iron Mountain’s city
charter. But he has some facts wrong.
There are TWO civil
service commissions provided for in the charter. One is for police and
fire (full time only) under Act 78 of 1935, and the other is for other
full time employees in other departments. The ballot question is asking
the citizens if they want to remove all of it. Doing so would allow
the City Manager to hire anyone for any position, without having a
separate no-cost board ensuring that the applicant chosen is qualified
and selected fairly.
Act 78 is a good thing. It eliminated the
good-old-boy hiring system that existed in the city prior to it’s
enactment in Iron Mountain, at least in the police and fire departments.
It was voted in by the people of Iron Mountain, and despite what some
city officials are saying, it occurred after the unions were in place,
Other cities in Michigan do manage to hire fairly
without Act 78. City officials have put forth Marquette as an example
of that. But if you look at the contract between the City of Marquette
and its firefighters, you will see that the contract creates a board
that is essentially the same thing as our Act 78 Civil Service
Commission. There is no such language in the contract between the City
of Iron Mountain and its firefighters. In fact, eliminating the Police
and Fire Civil Service Commission will place the City in violation of
that contract, because certain provisions of the contract, including the
grievance procedure, refer certain matters to the Civil Service
Commission or to Act 78.
I encourage everyone to read Michigan
Public Act 78 of 1935. It’s easy to find online with a search. You
will see that all it does is create a board, independent of the council
and the employees, that enforces rules in order to make sure that
employees are hired, fired, disciplined, and promoted fairly. It’s
free. Members of the commission are not paid. Going the other way,
where all details are contained in a collective bargaining agreement,
would require legal fees and arbitration to be paid for by the taxpayers
rather than being handled by the independent commission at no cost.
The city is saying that except for the firefighters, nobody has a
problem with eliminating the civil service process. I can’t speak for
the other departments’ employees, so they may be right. I do know that
none of the council members approached the firefighters’ union to ask
us. I am the local president, and only one council member discussed
this issue with me, and that was after I confronted him about it when I
saw him in public.
Act 78 says that the City could ask the
voters to rescind civil service for just police or fire - it doesn’t
have to be both. So why would they want to do it this way? Here’s
where we get back to the good-old-boys system of hiring.
the City replaced the police and fire chiefs with a director and two
deputy directors, they skirted around the law awfully closely. They had
to do things like create a totally new department within the city in
order to do it. They worded the requirements for the Director position
so that none of the firefighters would qualify to apply for the
position, but the police would. And when the 2 candidates from the
police department both failed the exam for the position - twice - they
convinced the civil service commission to change the rules so that they
could give extra test points for things like resumes, regardless of
their accuracy. Your current Director of Police and Fire Services had
exactly 15 hours of firefighting responses in his life, and that
includes anything that he might have done at those incidents, even if it
was just traffic control. But he’s the one the City wanted in that
position, so he’s the one they put in, and now he’s what we have instead
of a fire chief. In this case the civil service commission failed to
keep the good-old-boy system from winning the day. But if you have a
truly independent commission that follows the law to the letter, that
cannot happen. The City is still struggling with filling positions with
their pre-selected underqualified applicants under the constraints of
the Civil Service Commission, and that’s why they want you to vote to
Don’t let them get away with it. If the system is
removed we’ll go right back to the days when council members hired their
friends and family to fill positions in the city, and employee turnover
will be enormous as old council members are replaced by new. Don’t
forget the many people who were hired in the city about 10 years ago
that were selected by the City Manager with the council’s approval. You
had a public works director dumping sewage on Millie Hill, and a
convicted criminal doing property assessments. If those people had been
required to be hired under Civil Service (they weren’t because they
were “administrative”), they would never have been hired. The city spent
hundreds of thousands of dollars that were wasted. Don’t let it happen
again. Vote NO on November 8."
Doug Johnson President, Iron Mountain Firefighters Assoc., IAFF Local 554