Brothers and Sisters:
AFSCME International issued a reprimand against me concerning the DROP Program settlement I signed in October, 2016. Local 2187 accused me of colluding with the City and improperly making that agreement with them, and that Local 2187 should have been able to bring the DROP settlement agreement to their members for a vote. The Judicial Panel Chairman ruled that I did not collude with the City. He did rule, “the DROP settlement should have been brought back to the membership for a ratification vote.”
If a case like this should ever happen again, I will do what I usually do during contract negotiations and bring it back to the members for ratification.
The Judicial hearing officer found that this was a unique situation. Sister Cathy Scott testified that this was like other unfair labor practice settlements. The hearing officer said, “Although Sister Scott testified that in the past all reductions in pension benefits were brought to the membership for a ratification vote, no evidence was submitted at trial in the present case which elaborates on this claim.”
Also, I had earlier sought guidance from the International about my ability to take action concerning arbitration and unfair labor practices. That letter from AFSCME Eastern Regional Director James Howell said, “based on the District Council Constitution, it appears that the processing of grievances, arbitrations and unfair labor practices falls within the purview of Council, and as such Council is authorized to decide how such matters are presented, tried and administered.”
My interpretation of that and legal advice led me to take action to adopt the DROP agreement with the City, after having previously consulted with the leadership of Locals 810, 2186 and 2187.
Local 2187 was opposed to my decision and they took this matter to the International in February, which led to this ruling.
Fredrick Wright, President
AFSCME District Council 47