A motion by a city councilor asking the interim manager to look into the possibility of providing all municipal employees the ability to use the Family Medical Leave Act turned into a discussion on the ability the council has to impact city employee negotiations.
The motion by District 6 Councilor Giovanni Recupero ultimately failed to pass muster with the full council.
“This is an order that only asks the city manager to look into it, we really can’t tell the city manager what to do,” said Recupero.
However, Recupero said he would like to see the city negotiate with unions and employees about the possibility of providing FMLA to all city employees.
“I intend to vote no, not on the substance of it at all,” said Councilor-at-Large Brian Hatleberg. “There is a lot of negotiation that happens in the city with employee contracts and discussions of benefits, and I really don’t think we should have anything to do with this on the council floor. I don’t want to set a standard that we are going to enter into the conversation with dialogues with employees.”
Councilor-at-Large Damali Vidot said there are certain criteria one must meet to qualify for FMLA, adding that she believed Recupero’s motion interfered with the day-to-day operation of the city by the interim city manager.
District 1 Councilor Todd Taylor said he understood the councilors’ point about not wanting to get involved in negotiations.
“I don’t think this is really getting us involved in that,” said Taylor. “This is merely us conveying to the city manager what our wishes are, and I think we need to cut our fellow councilors some slack when they want to get a message across to the city manager on a specific subject. That does not mean that the city manager must do exactly as the order says, but to look into it and for them to respond.”
District 8 Councilor Calvin Brown agreed with Hatleberg that Recupero’s motion went too far.
“I think this shows that the city council is forcing or pushing in a direction we shouldn’t be pushing in,” said Brown.
District 3 Councilor Norieliz DeJesus said there should be a conversation about the FMLA in the city, but said she was unsure how Recupero’s motion would impact contracts or negotiations and voted against it.