City of SH declares an impasse with employees association

By CJ Dablo
Staff Writer

The Signal Hill City Council voted to declare an impasse with the Signal Hill Employees Association (SHEA) Tuesday night over whether the City can hire a part-time contractor to serve as building inspector.
The city manager’s office failed to reach an agreement with SHEA over whether to allow the City to hire a part-time contractor to perform building inspections. When the job position became vacant, the City filled the position by hiring a part-time contractor, rather than a full-time employee, according to Deputy City Manager Charlie Honeycutt.
“Building activity is at a historic low,” said Honeycutt. The demand for inspection services and permit revenues would not support SHEA’s request to hire a full-time building inspector, he explained.
Honeycutt said that SHEA opposed hiring a part-time contractor to replace a full-time employee because SHEA reasoned this move would weaken SHEA’s bargaining power.
The organization that represents approximately 50 city employees requested concessions including a request for an additional 1.6 days of paid leave time. They also requested that the City pay the amount of $150 to the association in lost dues.
“I’m extremely disappointed in SHEA,” Councilmember Mike Noll said.
While Noll commended overall employee performance, he stressed the fact that the City is still facing economic hardship. “I really think we have a great bunch of employees. I think they do a great job, but we’re all in this together. We’re trying to make the city financially safe for its residents. We haven’t had to cut services, and it’s important to look at these things, and we’ve also tried to protect jobs. So this sends a bad message to the city and to the Council when they pull this stuff– that they want more vacation time,” Noll said, as he summarized a few of their demands. “It’s crazy.”
“It would just be negligent of us as a council to hire a full-time position when the demand and the workload is not there,” added Councilmember Tina Hansen.
According to City Manager Ken Farfsing, the City will continue to discuss the position of the building inspector and keep SHEA representatives updated about the developments. SHEA does have the option to take the matter to the labor board.
No representatives from SHEA appeared before the City Council Tuesday night to address the impasse, however a representative of SHEA was available in a telephone interview on Thursday to make a short statement.
“We haven’t decided about what the next step will be,” said Bobbi Burnett, a SHEA representative.

Other highlights from the Council meeting:

Clarification was made regarding city ordinances that designate where political signs may be placed. Candidates are responsible for securing permission before they may display signs on private property. No city election signs may be displayed on city or Redevelopment Agency property. City employees may remove signs if they do not follow the ordinance. Discarded signs will be stored at City Hall.
Bryan Rodgers of the Pacific Gateway Workforce Investment Network discussed the City’s partnership with Pacific Gateway and offered a demonstration of the HireSignalHill.com website.
The City approved a resolution to “authorize the city attorney to send letters and file amicus briefs in third-party litigation.”

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