Firefighters Hiring & Equity Resolution for Feb. 5th Meeting

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Greg Casar
Posts: 95
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2015 4:20 pm

Firefighters Hiring & Equity Resolution for Feb. 5th Meeting

Post by Greg Casar » Sat Jan 31, 2015 3:42 pm

Dear colleagues,

I’m writing to provide you the text of the resolution that CM Houston, CM Garza, CM Renteria, and I are sponsoring for our Thursday, February 5th meeting. I want to provide you some background on where I am coming from on an issue that has been fraught for years.

In my view, our fire department clearly lacks diversity, and this is a serious problem. Furthermore, we face a deteriorating relationship with the Austin Firefighters’ Association Local 975 (AFA), the democratically elected representative of our firefighters. I’m committed to doing our best to tackle both of these issues.

The AFA has stated in public session several times that they are committed to racial equity, as has our own City staff. This resolution holds both sides responsible for upholding that commitment. The AFA and the City have also both stated that they are committed to bargaining over a fair hiring process. This resolution holds both sides responsible for upholding this commitment, as well. The resolution also includes provisions to support improvements in our firefighter recruitment process, and it attempts to build a framework for good faith negotiations over firefighters’ pay. Finally, the resolution sets a timeline so that we can responsibly comply with the Department of Justice Consent Decree and hire our firefighters promptly.

Our firefighters put their lives on the line to keep our residents safe. The City of Austin must be committed to ensuring that every Austinite who seeks to take on that heroic role has a fair shot to join the department. The current Department of Justice Consent Decree requires that our City take every step we can toward a racially equitable hiring process. Under the decree, our legal team believes that we do not necessarily have to work with the AFA on negotiating the terms of a hiring process. But in just a few years that decree will be gone, and the City will almost certainly have to negotiate hiring processes with AFA within a collective bargaining agreement once again.

Instead of kicking the can down the road, we should make our best attempt to reach agreement today, for the sake of diversity and a strong fire department in the near and long-term future. Sustainable solutions to these diversity issues depend on our ability to work together with our employees on a hiring process that we agree is fair, equitable, and just. Let me be clear: I absolutely will not accept any hiring process that has unjust racial impact, even if the discrimination is inadvertent. My intention with this resolution is to create the conditions for a successful bargaining process that will result in more racial diversity, great new firefighters, and the positive labor-management relations that we need to move forward.

I look forward to working with you on this important issue. I’m very open to input that could make this resolution stronger and increase our chances of success.

Sincerely,
Greg


RESOLUTION NO.

WHEREAS, less than five percent of Austin’s firefighters are African-American and less than twenty percent of Austin’s firefighters are Hispanic; and

WHEREAS, there is a well-documented history of racial discrimination in the hiring processes of public safety departments across the United States; and

WHEREAS, the City of Austin is committed to building a professional Fire Department whose diversity reflects the diversity of our City; and

WHEREAS, Austin Firefighters Association Local 975 (AFA) has stated their commitment to a professional and diverse Fire Department during multiple public sessions of the Austin City Council; and

WHEREAS, the voters of the City of Austin voted in favor of collective bargaining rights for Austin’s firefighters by referendum in 2004; and

WHEREAS, AFA—the democratically chosen representative of Austin’s firefighters—and the City of Austin have not achieved a mutually beneficial collective bargaining agreement and contract since 2009; and

WHEREAS, the failure to achieve a mutually beneficial collective bargaining agreement harms the City’s ability to promote and protect the interests of the public; and

WHEREAS, the City of Austin and AFA have regularly bargained over a hiring process for years, and the City’s long-term ability to achieve diversity in our fire department and fair treatment of firefighters is dependent on collective bargaining; and

WHEREAS, the City of Austin is now under Consent Decree with the Department of Justice to ensure that all provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are fully enforced and to ensure that no disparate impact discrimination exist within any hiring process of our Fire Department; and

WHEREAS, the City of Austin is committed to standing for racial equity, for the right of workers to organize and bargain as a union, and for ensuring the safety of the public through a professional fire department; and

WHEREAS, the AFA has sent a request for collective bargaining to the City of Austin, and the City intends to bargain with the AFA as soon as practicable; NOW, THEREFORE,

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF AUSTIN:
The Council directs the City Manager to:

1. When bargaining, agree to terms for a hiring process and cadet training standards within the mutually beneficial collective bargaining agreement. The City Council desires that the bargained hiring process meet the Council’s goal of racial equity and meet the City’s responsibilities already detailed in the Consent Decree, which include:
a) only include testing procedures that are job-related and justified by the business necessity of running a safe and professional Fire Department;
b) limit components of testing that are proven to have high adverse impacts against applicants of color and women;
c) reasonably seek to hire the best firefighters while minimizing adverse impact; and
d) meet the City’s obligations under the Consent Decree.

2. Withdraw Request For Proposal (RFP) #8300-EAD0117REBID; and

3. In anticipation of successful bargaining with AFA Local 975, direct Fire Department staff to not spend the current fiscal year budgeted 1% salary increase on items other than its intended purpose of a general wage increase. Also, direct appropriate budget staff to prepare the FY 2015/16 budget with lost general wage increases from 2013 and 2014 to prepare for the possibility of successful future bargaining sessions. This provision is not intended to guarantee specific salary increases for firefighters, but rather it is intended to prepare the City for the possibility of a successfully bargained contract.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:
That the Council desires that:

4. The process for seeking a third party hiring vendor strongly consider any vendor’s history of success in producing both racially diverse and successful public safety personnel when working with other major or comparable metropolitan public safety departments. A third party vendor should be required to produce a test intended to have a level of validity commensurate with the high stakes job of structural firefighting, and the City Council desires that the City and the AFA attempt to include a specific goal for validity of a testing instrument in a collective bargaining agreement to avoid any future misunderstandings or grievances over such terms in the agreement.

5. The City Manager notify the City Council immediately if there is a determination that collectively bargaining over hiring is likely to result in unlawful disparate impact against people of color or women.

6. The City Manager brief the City Council on the City’s proposal for recruiting more applicants of color and women with the skill sets needed to be a successful candidate within the hiring process for firefighters. The City Council would like to consider any additional action items that could further support extensive recruitment in the local community and communities of color. The City Council would like to consider providing more support for internship programs or school partnerships to increase the pool of local applicants.

7. The City Manager bring a hiring process, or new RFP, forward to the City Council for consideration if a collective bargaining agreement with AFA Local 975 is not achieved on a timeline that will allow for full compliance with the Consent Decree. The City Council desires that a process for hiring to comply with the Consent Decree be mutually agreed upon by collective bargaining agreement, but if this does not occur, the City Council intends to direct the City Manager to proceed unilaterally to ensure compliance with the Consent Decree.
Gregorio "Greg" Casar
Council Member District 4

Don Zimmerman
Posts: 168
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2015 12:05 pm

Re: Firefighters Hiring & Equity Resolution for Feb. 5th Mee

Post by Don Zimmerman » Mon Feb 02, 2015 11:14 am

CM Casar:
Thanks for posting this.
Please list me as a CO-SPONSOR, as I strongly support the withdrawal of RFP-8300.
Thanks,
Don
Don Zimmerman
Council Member District 6 (northwest Austin)

Greg Casar
Posts: 95
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2015 4:20 pm

Re: Firefighters Hiring & Equity Resolution for Feb. 5th Mee

Post by Greg Casar » Mon Feb 02, 2015 11:51 am

CM Zimmerman,

Thank you for your support. To be listed as a co-sponsor, please contact the Agenda Office with that request.

Thanks again,
Greg
Gregorio "Greg" Casar
Council Member District 4

Ann Kitchen
Posts: 137
Joined: Fri Jan 09, 2015 5:04 pm

Re: Firefighters Hiring & Equity Resolution for Feb. 5th Mee

Post by Ann Kitchen » Mon Feb 02, 2015 12:52 pm

Thank You Greg.

Well said. I will notify the agenda office of my intention to cosponsor the resolution
Ann Kitchen
Council Member District 5

Kathie Tovo
Posts: 75
Joined: Thu Oct 30, 2014 11:18 am

Re: Firefighters Hiring & Equity Resolution for Feb. 5th Mee

Post by Kathie Tovo » Wed Feb 04, 2015 1:37 pm

Thanks, Greg. Do you anticipate making any changes to the resolution based on the memo the City received yesterday from the Department of Justice?

Many thanks,

Kathie Tovo
Mayor Pro Tem
Council Member, District 9
Council District 9

Greg Casar
Posts: 95
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2015 4:20 pm

Re: Firefighters Hiring & Equity Resolution for Feb. 5th Mee

Post by Greg Casar » Wed Feb 04, 2015 4:07 pm

Colleagues:

I'm working with attorneys & staff to make appropriate amendments. I will only support a resolution that complies with our responsibilities, legal and moral, under the Consent Decree and the Civil Rights Act.

Greg
Gregorio "Greg" Casar
Council Member District 4

Leslie Pool
Posts: 149
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2015 4:22 pm

Re: Firefighters Hiring & Equity Resolution for Feb. 5th Mee

Post by Leslie Pool » Wed Feb 04, 2015 10:57 pm

all, I have advised the Agenda Office of my intent to be a co-sponsor of the resolution CM Casar is offering.

thanks,

Leslie
Leslie Pool
Council Member, District 7

OCC_Admin
Posts: 113
Joined: Mon Feb 10, 2014 3:19 pm

Re: Firefighters Hiring & Equity Resolution for Feb. 5th Mee

Post by OCC_Admin » Mon Aug 31, 2015 8:55 am

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