DEED meet and confer minutes May 23, 2018

Publish Date

DEED Meet and Confer Minutes
May 23, 2018

Present for MAPE: Andy Given (chair), Darlene Heiskary, Ted Sitz, Tim Qualley, Maureen Dunaway, Alana Strickler, Evon Minelli, Chet Jorgenson, Caitlin Reid.

Present for the employer: Shawntera Hardy, Jeremy Hanson Willis, Kim Peck, May Thao-Schuck, Carol Pankow, Susan Kehoe-Katula, Jennifer Fuhr, Rick Caligiuri, Dorcas Michaelson, Renea Bourassa.

Updates (resolved issues).
a. Dave Niermann will contact all impacted WFC employees regarding position description rewrites.
Postings for newly created positions will be announced in regular communiques from HR. HR said they would communicate with management about possibility of announcing vacancies at a local office/unit level. They acknowledged that staff cannot view DEED Vacancy Postings on the internal website if they are away from work, as it can only be accessed from a work computer. The problem is that an employee could miss a deadline for bidding if they cannot view the listings while on leave or away from the office.

b. DEED complied with The Governor’s executive order on sustainability, on April 30, by encouraging employees to use alternatives to single occupancy vehicles.

Agenda Items for Discussion

1) Performance and unpaid leave policy MAPE expressed concern about management’s new policy of issuing letters of expectation to employees with frequent occurrences of leave without pay (ETL). MAPE pointed out that, contractually, these letters shall not reference the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), ADA or FMLA. MAPE added that employees who exhaust sick leave should be able to use accrued vacation leave; by denying vacation leave when sick leave is exhausted, management is setting up employees to use ETL, and thus putting them on a path for a letter of expectation, which management believes should be placed permanently in the personnel file, as part of the performance record. MAPE considers this action to be punitive. Letters of expectation are unlikely to aid members’ recovery from illness or injury. Management responded that they are still looking at the policy. They are concerned about patterns of ETL use which resemble sick leave abuse. This issue will be on the agenda for the third quarter meet and confer.

MAPE and management discussed the issue of privacy regarding use of sick leave and requests for sick leave. Management agreed that sick leave requests should not be viewable by other staff on a manager’s shared calendar, nor if on paper or other formats.

2) Vacation accrual credit for private sector experience
Management encouraged employees to contact the HR generalist for their work area for guidance on how to request vacation accrual credit for private sector experience. Employees with previous self-employment experience will have their experience evaluated on a case-by-case basis. DEED is reaching out to MMB for guidance on this issue. Clear guidelines are expected to be posted on the DEN (DEED employee network) by May 25, 2018.

3) Respectful Workplace Policy training

Management reported that MMB is completing the final draft on a web-based training module on the Respectful Workplace Policy, MMB # 1432. Management expects all employees, including managers, to complete the training by late-summer/early fall. MAPE suggested a deadline of Sept. 30, 2018. MAPE requested that DEED HR make sure that the training includes a clear process of what an employee can expect if they need to file a Respectful Workplace Policy complaint - timelines, investigation process, and documentation of outcomes communicated back to the employee. HR agreed to do so. MAPE also requested that that third-party vendors be informed of the Respectful Workplace Policy. Management agreed to do this as well.

4) DEED Budget

Management reported that there was a slight (3%) decrease in Wagner-Peyser funding, which is a much smaller cut than what was expected. All other federal program funding saw a slight increase (one-year funding). Title IV (Dept of Ed) saw a slight increase for VRS. State funding was mixed. The Angel Tax credit funding was not restored. Broadband base funding is still intact, but additional funding was not approved.

The City of Minneapolis no longer contracts with DEED for WIOA Adult Program services in the Minneapolis WorkForce Centers, resulting in a budget of $425,000.00. Management is uncertain if this cut will result in layoffs. MAPE requested that management reach out as soon as they are aware of impending layoffs. Management agreed to this request.

Management added that there are no present plans to change the WorkForce Center services delivery model, i.e. mobile units. Management reported that the St Cloud WFC is seeking a new location. Also CareerForce branding begins on October 1st, replacing use of the WorkForce Center brand."
MAPE also brought to the attention of DEED Management that there may be issues related to how non-DEED funds were spent at Hennepin South for the past couple of years. DEED Management was asked to investigate if funds were possible misspent on building expenses and non-DEED workshop facilitators. Management was appreciative this was brought to their attention, and plans to verify this situation and get back in contact with us.

5) Morale/Employee Engagement

MAPE reported on themes from listening sessions held with members in April. Members generally enjoy their work but would like more input on the process, more clearly defined work procedures, and less micro management. MAPE noted that employees who have more input are more engaged. Equal access to training and job growth were other concerns. One theme which was troubling is that members, by a wide margin, would not recommend DEED as an employer to family and/or friends. MAPE pointed out that the workforce at central office (FNB) has diminished significantly in the last 18 months (approximately a 14% decrease). Members are alarmed over the significant use of unclassified appointments. The hiring process remains a mystery, with many promotions going to friends and family. MAPE added that the potential downgrade of 7L BAM positions to a 5L classification is unlikely to improve morale; another promotional opportunity will disappear. Management responded that the process is still under review and had no deadline on when the process will be completed.

MAPE expressed concern over the long term work assignments for certain members in the Unemployment Insurance Customer Call Center who are scheduled on the phone more than others. Management reported that the schedule was not punitive, and that this was not intended to be a temporary.. Management added that the work assignments were created because a certain number of staff have superior phone skills.

MAPE offered a few suggestions to improve morale: Flexible scheduling, working from home, training on Unconscious Bias, better training on the Respectful Workplace Policy, etc. Uncertainty remains over understaffing and the number of unfilled positions.

Commissioner Hardy welcomed the creation of a committee to improve morale.