New Developments in Reduction in Force Story

As reported in Reductions in Force Outcomes, one of the decisions the City of DeKalb made last year in implementing the Reduction in Force (RIF) was to lay off AFSCME-affiliated workers in June even though it was contractually obligated to pay them their regular compensation through December 2010.

Nobody questioned it much at the time, but then it came out that DeKalb was notified in August it must also pay unemployment compensation to these idled workers for the same period.

On top of borrowing $1.1 million for the other piece of the plan, the Voluntary Separation Program (VSP), the RIF was not looking like a very good deal for the taxpaying public. A closer look for the purposes of evaluating the RIF decisions seemed reasonable to me.

I asked why DeKalb didn’t just keep the workers working through the end of 2010 and found out city administrators had completed a detailed cost-benefit analysis that they felt justified the decision. It had not been included in publicly accessible meeting materials, so I asked for it.

Another document that was not included in meeting materials was the VSP agreement for management employees, which reportedly prohibits them from being hired back in a full time capacity. This differs from the VSP side letter signed with AFSCME, so I asked for a copy of the agreement, too.

The city denied the request, citing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) exemptions for adjudication (grievances/discipline) and collective negotiations. I responded last week by filing a Request for Review with the Public Access Counselor (PAC), arguing that both documents were the products of these processes that the DeKalb City Council used to make its decision on the RIF.

PAC has decided to review the case. The City of DeKalb must provide “clear and convincing evidence that its reasons for denying information or records were proper.” [Emphasis in original.]