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Hawaiian Gardens Accused of Violating Brown Act

By Jerry Bernstein

In what could be a prelude to next year’s council race to fill three seats that are up for re-election, Pete Schnaufer, Business Agent for the employees’ union, AFSCME, accused the city council of violating the Brown Act at the July 24 meeting.

He accused the council of authorizing City Manager Enesto Marquez to petition the State’s Public Employment Relation Board making the positions of Human Resource Manager and Assistant City Administrator non-union positions. “It was never on a council agenda, which is a violation of the Brown Act.

In a brief interview with LCCN, Schnaufer said if the City Administrator made the request without approval of the city council it is illegal because he does not have the authority to do so since the city is governed under a City Administrator set up and not a City Manager process. If the council gave him an okay, they violated the Brown Act since they did not convene a public meeting giving him the authority to act.

One AFSCME member told LCCN “this was just the beginning”. He said the next move would be to change the position of City Administrator to City Manager.

Schnaufer complimented the council on the improvements the city has made during the past few years.” It’s very difficult to be a good city councilmember,” he said. “However, one of the things we don’t understand in our city is the extent city workers voluntarily gave of their own time.

The Council also took under consideration a grievance involving a worker who sought monetary entitlement under the Family Medical Act and was denied by the Acting Human Resources Manager who said the employee was ineligible for a [aid leave of absence because he was not taking care of a family member who was in the hospital.

A second grievance was also taken under consideration for three employees who claimed they should had been paid for the work they did on a rotating schedule filling in for the absence Human Resources Manager. They claimed they were being trained to help out in that office. And should have received extra pay. However after being originally denied a settlement was arrived at.

Schnaufer said under the MOU with the union an employee who spends a majority of his/her time performing duties of a higher level and works out-of-class for three work days or more in a span of 15 workdays shall receive out-of-class pay beginning the first day of the working out-of-class. He submitted a document to the council under the title of “Working Out of Class” and “Benefits.

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