Hearing to reject the Collective Bargaining Agreements
City Wins Today’s Battle 2-1
By Katy Miessner
This was the second day of the hearings and in the morning Kelly Woodruff representing the unions cross-examined Assistant City Manager Craig Whittom. She asked ad-nauseum questions about the deal made with VPOA, CAMP and potential deals with IBEW and IAFF. At the least, it was illuminating to find out what was on the table for the other unions who have yet to settle. In the normal course of union negotiations, this would all be secret until days before the contracts were ready to be signed by the Council.
The arguments were incredibly convoluted, although many in the room were quite tense and terse, especially the two lawyers who were arguing the City and Union sides. I could tell who was “winning” and who was “losing” but for much of the time, not sure what was at stake. I found out later sure enough and it was no surprise that they were tense!
I’d write the arguments verbatim but it would be useless and boring. Woodruff’s point I believe was to illustrate how the deals varied with each union, with some seemingly getting a better deal and others treated unfairly. She did not conclude her line of questioning so it’s hard to know but that’s my best guess. I also think it was likely she was trying to set up an argument that the City is not really bankrupt. This was underscored at the very end of the day when I asked others in the court what the reason was for battle between the two lawyers I mentioned prior.
The battle started right before noon with the City’s Attorney, Norman Hile, asking for a bit of “housekeeping”. It seems that the Union lawyers decided not to call their consultant Kenneth Akins, who worked on salary projections,to the stand. The City wanted to cross examine Akins but because the Union wasn’t going to call him, the City was losing the opportunity.
The argument got testy, with Hile commenting to McManus about Woodruff “when it helps her it works, when it doesn’t help her it doesn’t work” referring to Woodruffs objections to Akins as a witness. Woodruff shot back that that the City is stuck on the fact that they have not argued their case. She then passed around copies of a document and she threw one at Hile instead of handing it to him.
This back and forth went on and on and in the end, the judge ruled that the City could not call Akins as a witness.
But it didn’t end there.
Woodruff then called Sandy Salerno as an adversary witness. Hile argued that Woodruff could not cross examine Salerno for the same reason Akins couldn’t be called by the City.
McManus said to Woodruff “There’s your argument right back at you”.
Woodruff went on to argue why it WAS different (a percipient witness rather than an expert witness – if anyone out there can define this, please do) but Mc Manus didn’t buy it. Who knows why Salerno was called, since Woodruff had to withdraw her as a witness.
Hile then called Susan Mayer as a witness. This I later learned was also connected to Akins. Mayer sat there as Hile, Woodruff and McManus went back and forth on why Mayer’s second declaration could not be admitted as evidence. The thing is, nothing new can be introduced by the City; it all has to be rebuttal. The union’s argument is that Mayer’s second declaration presented new information.
But, Mayer’s declaration was made in response to factual inaccuracies from a salary survey prepared by Akins, the Unions’ consultant. Seems we have another Rose Report in the house.
The Unions used Akins salary survey to conclude that their salaries are not an undue burden to the City. Oh but there was one little caveat. Seems the Unions, when they hired Mr. Akins, gave him the Unions’ salary schedule as it is NOW: frozen under the Pendency Plan. Mr. Akins did do his job correctly but he started off with the bad data he was given. The City’s argument was, had Akins used the salaries in the contracts, the conclusion would have been the salaries ARE an undue burden; i.e. bankrupting the City.
It’s no wonder all this energy was spent by Woodruff on avoiding testimony from Akins, and energy from the City to get it in. Hile, Woodruff and McManus continued for about an hour debating should Mayer's declaration be admitted? Or only the paragraphs that referred to Akins’ survey? Or the whole thing?
McManus finally ruled that yes, Mayer’s declaration should be admitted and he told Woodruff that she could choose to rebut it, and he would give her until Tuesday. Woodruff declined, guess she doesn’t want to talk about it.
Gloster then went on to push for closing arguments today. He admitted he was much more verbose than Marc Levinson, the City’s lead attorney but he promised to wrap it up after 45 minutes. The Unions lawyers really, really wanted to end it today. McManus refused and told them they had to come back another day.
Up next: Closing arguments on Tuesday, February 10th from 1:30-3:30.
Same place, same bat channel!