Sham Version of COIN Passed by Union Influenced Fullerton City Council?
Here is a postmortem on the final passage on June 17th of the Fullerton version of a “Civic Openness in Labor Negotiations (COIN) ordinance:
During the council meeting a few of citizen activists tried valiantly to persuade two other Fullerton council members in addition to Council member Bruce Whitaker to reject the City of Fullerton’s sham version of labor negotiation reform. Activist Diane Hickey and I presented a comparison between the two tales of “good” government. The real version known as the Costa Mesa version and then the sham version foisted upon us at council last night by Human Resources Director Gretchen Beatty.
It was pitiful to watch Council members Jan Flory, Jennifer Fitzgerald and Doug Chaffee do their phony acceptance speeches for this so-called reform measure.
Ms. Fitzgerald offered that she would be supportive of removing the language that would allow her with two additional council members to waive the requirement for an independent negotiator under all circumstances. But as Gomer Pyle used to say – “surprise, surprise” – she never offered that as a motion. Had she done so, it would have allowed the entire council to strip that awful part of the ordinance.
Council member Flory stated the five components necessary for a good C.O.I.N. ordinance as expressed by Orange County Supervisor Moorlach in an article he recently wrote was indeed included in our draft ordinance. But of course, Ms. Flory did not even offer up one of those tenets as an example. Why take the time and effort to include even one fact in your argument when it is so much more fun and so much easier for Ms. Flory to provide the 10 people or so left in the audience at 11 p.m. with hyperbole instead? Council member Fitzgerald strongly disagreed with Council member Greg Sebourn’s comment that after reading the five components necessary for a good C.O.I.N ordinance, that he was hard pressed to see those components in our proposed ordinance. Please note that Moorlach’s comments and his five main components for a good C.O.I.N. ordinance follows very closely to the Costa Mesa C.O.I.N. ordinance.
Here are the five components as stated in Supervisor’s Moorlach’s article as follows:
1. “Independent Negotiator – As is current policy, the County will hire an independent negotiator that is not impacted by any outcome in the negotiation process. Past practice had county staff, who were subject to the same provisions as the bargaining unit they were negotiating with, negotiate on behalf of the Board of Supervisors. Independent negotiators remove this conflict.
2. Cost of Contracts – Current practice has the county budget office analyze the costs of any contract proposal. Under COIN, the independently elected Auditor-Controller will take on this responsibility. This ensures an equal playing ground for both labor organizations and the county as both will be given the ability to comment about the analysis.
3. Offers and Counteroffers – This ordinance would require that all offers and counteroffers be disclosed to the public within 24 hours.
4. Board Disclosure – Each member of the Board of Supervisors will be required to disclose any and all verbal, written, or electronic communications they have had with an official representative of a recognized employee organization.
5. Contract Approval – This ordinance will require that, before the final proposed contract is placed on the Board agenda, the Memorandum of Understanding will be posted to the County website.”
Well Council member Flory, since you failed to support your claim that Fullerton’s “COIN” ordinance includes these five conditions, I thought that I would take a stab at it. As someone who is independent and also an auditor, I believe I can easily either verify or nullify your claim, examining each condition one by one. To reiterate: Council member Flory stated that all 5 components laid out by Supervisor Moorlach were part of the Fullerton labor negotiation ordinance.
COMPARISON OF MODEL COIN ORDINANCE (MOORLACH) WITH FULLERTON’S SUPPOSED COIN ORDINANCE:
1. Independent Negotiator: Under Moorlach’s component, an independent negotiator is a requirement for all negotiations. Under Fullerton ordinance Section B.1. Principal Negotiator second paragraph states as follows: “The requirement for an outside negotiator may be waived by a majority vote of City Council.” It is also not required when there is not a significant change to the bargaining agreement. Therefore, the first component is optional, and not required under the Fullerton ordinance.
2. Cost of Contracts: Under Moorlach’s component the independently elected Auditor-Controller reviews the costs of proposed contracts and provides the information to all parties and the public before any contractual finalization can take place. In the Fullerton version it states at A.1., Annual Analysis of Costs and Liabilities, second paragraph, as follows: “The annual fiscal analysis shall be submitted to the City’s independent auditor during the course of the annual City financial audit.” Under Fullerton law, there is no requirement to provide this information prior to the signing of the labor negotiation contracts, relegating the independent auditor’s information worthless because the public does not receive it in a timely manner. Therefore, the second component’s only purpose is not carried out under the Fullerton law.
3. Offers and Counteroffers: Under Moorlach’s component “this ordinance would require that all offers and counteroffers be disclosed to the public within 24 hours.” Under the just passed Fullerton ordinance, there is no such requirement that states how quickly all offers and counteroffers are to be disclosed too the public nor to the council. Therefore, the third component is not carried out under the Fullerton ordinance.
4. Board Disclosure: Under Moorlach’s component “each member of the Board of Supervisors will be required to disclose any and all verbal, written, or electronic communications they have had with an official representative of a recognized employee organization.” Again, there is no such language included in the Fullerton ordinance. Therefore, the fourth competent is missing from the Fullerton ordinance.
5. Contract Approval: Under Moorlach’s component “this ordinance will require that, before the final proposed contract is placed on the Board agenda, the Memorandum of Understanding will be posted to the County website.” There is no such language included in the Fullerton ordinance requiring the M.O.U. to be posted to the City of Fullerton website. Therefore, component number 5 also is not met by our Fullerton ordinance.
I believe that based on my component-by-component analysis, Fullerton Council member Flory has some explaining to do to the members of the Fullerton public. Since Mayor Chaffee and Council member Fitzgerald also agreed with Ms. Flory and voted for the Fullerton ordinance maybe they should help Ms. Flory with her response.
Not one of the key components of a good C.O.I.N. law as described by Supervisor Moorlach is included in the Fullerton ordinance.
About the Author: Barry Levinson has lived in Fullerton for 25 years with his wife, Susan, and his son, Brett. He currently serves as Chair of the Fullerton Parks and Recreation Commission. He has been an advocate for the restoration of both sound fiscal policies and accountability in government. He has worked as an internal auditor and manager in both private industry and with the CPA firm Ernst and Young.