Written by Cynthia L. Jacoby
December 04, 2009
A proposed overtime policy revision is causing a stir among Village of Genoa workers.
Village council is set for its third reading Monday of a comprehensive package of personnel policy changes for the nearly 20 village workers. The new policies stem from two years of committee work and are the first revisions made since 2001, said Council President Elizabeth Slotnick, head of the personnel committee.
The proposal addresses policies ranging from sick time and drug testing to the writing of job descriptions and items based on recommendations from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.
Employees have several concerns with the changes; but a new formula for calculating overtime is causing the most disdain, Slotnick said.
Basically, the village would now require employees to work a full 40 hours before receiving overtime pay.
In the past, Slotnick explained, a worker who took a sick day on Monday and then worked four days could begin collecting overtime immediately if called in to work on Saturday or Sunday. Under the new policy, the person would be paid straight time until reaching 40 hours of actual work time. Overtime pay kicks in after that benchmark.
The revision also eliminates a perk for four positions – the police chief, village administrator, fiscal officer, and public works director. Under the current policy, they can opt to cash out a week’s vacation at the end of the year.
“When it was initially brought before us, it was an emergency measure. But it hasn’t been used that way,” Slotnick said.
Public Works Director Kevin Gladden voiced objections at a November council meeting during the second reading of the proposed changes, according to minutes.
Council members invited him and any other concerned employees to a Nov. 30 committee meeting to talk more in depth.
Gladden and three other workers showed, Slotnick said.
Council members explained, as before, these changes were cost-saving measures undertaken in this tough economy. The village budgeted an estimated $37,000 for overtime in 2009 and 2010 between three of the utility departments, the councilman said.
“They were upset that we are now asking them to work 40 hours before you cash in on overtime,” Slotnick said. “How many of our residents have that option of getting paid overtime when they haven’t worked 40 hours? How many of them even get sick days or vacation time?”
They countered, she said, that council could have cut costs by dropping an $8,000 purchase of tables for the village administration building to replace tables that Slotnick described as “cardboard tables that basically looked like something you’d set up in a church basement.”
And some of the workers seemed upset that they were just hearing about the changes. Slotnick noted Village Administrator Garth Reynolds attended committee meetings and that he spoke afterward to Gladden, a liaison for the employees.
When contacted for this story, Gladden declined comment until The Press could have access to the official minutes of the Nov. 30 meeting. Those minutes were not yet available. He referred further questions to Reynolds.
Two attempts to reach Reynolds for comment were unsuccessful.
Nonetheless, said Slotnick, the committee meetings were all public, dates were posted in six public places, and workers could have attended them over the course of two years.
Workers, she said, complained they were afraid to come to meetings because in the past they had been told to stay away or face the consequences.
“I believe that. The previous administration was not always that friendly. These guys were told if you go to the meetings you will lose your job,” Slotnick said. “We made it very clear we are not the previous administration. Our current mayor and current administrator have done everything to be very open.”