FORT WAYNE – Its back to the drawing board for members of the Consolidated Communications Partnership board after they agreed to redraft a new policy passed Aug. 20.
The board oversees the joint Fort Wayne-Allen County 911 call center, which staffs between 70 and 80 dispatchers. Emotions ran high Thursday when 15 to 20 employees of the 911 call center attended the special board meeting.
The policy established two seniority lists for employees, one for promotional purposes and one for vacation time and other benefits.
Allen County Sheriff Ken Fries, a member of the board, was not present at the August meeting and said Thursday that he was against having two seniority lists and also had a concern with the computation of seniority time.
Fries, backed by board member and Fort Wayne Fire Chief Amy Biggs, asked the board to consider redrafting the policy.
Board member and Fort Wayne Police Chief Rusty York said the issue had already been settled.
We gave the employees an opportunity to speak on this, York said. The board voted on what they thought was an equitable policy. Not everyone is going to be 100 percent satisfied.
Allen County Commissioner Nelson Peters presided in proxy for Commissioner Therese Brown, who is president of the group. Peters pointed out that the seniority policy is now being debated for the third time.
There are also several drafts of proposed policies, including one from employees and one from the executive director of the 911 call center, Tim Lee, Peters said.
Several employees spoke, citing instances in which someone would lose or gain seniority based on how the policy is written.
The debate centers on whether to count all work time spent in city or county departments or just the time spent working in the joint 911 call center, which was merged two years ago. Some dispatchers had worked in other city or county departments before the call center and some had switched from county to city before the merger.
The board agreed with a grievance in August from an employee who wanted seniority credit for the time she spent working in the county warrants department before the merger.
Fries said employees should be credited for all time served with the county or city before the merger.
In the end, Lee agreed to meet with employee representatives and hash out new rules before the next meeting Nov. 12.
The new policy must be in place before Novembers rollout – which is when dispatchers select the shifts they would like to work in the coming year.
Selections are granted based on seniority.
The board has the right to reconsider its previous decision, but at some point must make policy and move on, said John Feighner, attorney for the board.
The seniority list is a common practice used in city and county government as well as in the private sector, but the board is faced with the complexity of trying to compose seniority for employees who worked in other divisions in either the city or county prior to the merger, Feighner said.
The August policy affected about 14 employees, but a new one could affect more, Feighner said.