Local doctors have diagnosed Vision Vancouver with Auditory Canalititis. A condition that prevents it from listening to public or staff feedback.
Based on the number of comments we've had on this topic over the last several days, it's clear that Vancouver City Manager Penny Ballem's decision to cut the pay of her top managers and exempt staff is not going over well. From the manager's perspective, they see it as unfair given that Ballem is planning to grab the cash and stuff it into a rainy day bank account which won't save a single public service job. From the unionized workers perspective, the "fat cat" managers made a lot of money working overtime in the 2007 CUPE strike and they are getting their just desserts for acting like scabs.
Regardless of which side you agree with, clearly Ballem's decision has opened up a wound amongst staff which may take a long time to heal. CityCaucus.com has obtained a copy of an email sent by a senior manager to the Mayor and Council just moments before they were about to make a final decision on the pay cut. We have hidden portions of the email in order to help protect the employee's identity:
Friday, December 18, 2009 10:16 AM
To: Mayor and Council
[section removed which referred to how long they had worked at city hall]...and I have never communicated directly to Council on matters such as this. However as I feel so strongly about the matter, it is the right thing to do.
The 2% wage increase delay for exempt staff is a major mistake on many levels: it is not being equitably applied (i.e. not to union staff, Council members etc- - were the Unions asked to renegotiate to assist in this matter?; asking for feedback and then disregarding the VACMPs survey results that such an increase be applied across the board and how the savings should be applied - not into contingency reserve; no time given to comment (including what would we recommend instead of this action….; resulting morale impacts, etc, etc.
I and other managers have continued to work with staff under extremely difficult circumstances, created, in our area to a large extent by the hiring freeze. We have worked very hard to input into and implement budget reductions and the Vancouver services review initiatives. And, we have continued to generate our departmental 'products', on time, with successful conclusions at Council and kudos from senior managers. This latest action feels like a punitive 'twisting of the knife'.
I do not have time to further articulate all the reasons this is so terribly wrong-headed, as I understand you are making a decision on this, this morning. I trust however, with even just the minimal amount of time you have to consider the implications of this, you will decide not to support the initiative.
There are rumblings at City Hall over the last few days that a number of city managers and exempt staff being asked to work a ton of overtime during the upcoming Olympic Games might be unavailable to do that work. Some have told us they just might have a bad cold during the period of the Games. Others are getting their act together and plan to speak with one voice to the city manager about their concerns.
The manner in which both Vision Vancouver and Penny Ballem handled this pay cut decision is, simply put, terrible. They first pretended like they wanted feedback. Then when they received it, they ignored it. This pattern must sound pretty familiar to the supporters of Bloedel Conservatory and Stanley Park petting zoo as well as those who spoke out against the 1215 Bidwell proposal and the impact of the HEAT shelters.
A pattern of non-consultation has become the hallmark of this Vision administration's first year in office. In addition, they (and their apparatchiks) exude a level of arrogance befitting a group of politicians who've been around a lot longer and accomplished much more than they have. With only 22 months left in their term, they'd best get a dose of humility soon. Otherwise, they may well blow what was I thought was an assured victory in 2011.
Whether Vancouver's city managers and exempt staff will do anything to fight the cuts remains to be seen. Regardless, the last vote made in 2009 will likely haunt this council well into 2010.
- Post by Daniel