Council OKs unfair labor practices settlement

Lebanon City Council members unanimously approved a $6,000 settlement in an unfair labor practice dispute, which started in 2011, at their May 10 meeting.

City Attorney Tre Kennedy wrote a two-page memo to the councilors about the AFSCME v. City of Lebanon case. AFSCME, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, represents city employees.

“You guys can read the details of the case,” Kennedy said. “We’ve talked about it on a number of occasions. (We) also ran the proposed terms of the settlement by the council, who were generally in favor.”

AFSCME filed the suit in response to a letter to the editor that Margaret Campbell, who was a councilor at the time, wrote to the Lebanon Express conveying an “anti-union sentiment” during a period of labor negotiations.

While she stated in the letter that she was writing as an individual, she signed it identifying herself as city councilor, Ward II.

Campbell’s 2011 letter was in response to a letter from AFSCME and the Teamsters which called for two positions, the assistant city manager/human resources manager and the human resource assistant, to be cut.

The Employee Relations Board ruled against the city of Lebanon.

The city appealed to the Court of Appeals, which reversed the decision.

AFSCME appealed to the Supreme Court, which on Feb. 2, 2017 reversed the court of appeals “in a 4-3 decision with a dissent (fairly rare), reversed the Court of Appeals and remanded to the ERB for further findings.”

The Supreme Court “was required to award AFSCME its representation costs on appeal, up to a maximum of $5,000,” Kennedy said. “In discussions with the attorney for AFSCME, we concluded that there was not much benefit to retry the case under the Supreme Court test. AFSCME has agreed to dismiss the case for a total payment of $6,000.”

The agreement states that “although the case was remanded to ERB for further proceedings, the parties have mutually agreed that further litigation is unnecessary, unwarranted, and would not be a worthy expenditure of their respective resources.”

The city’s legal representation in the case has been performed by Kennedy, of Morley Thomas Law Firm, which provides city attorney services to Lebanon. The city’s contracted cost for retainer services from Kennedy in 2016 was $12,000 per month. The three-year contract ran from May 10, 2014 through May 9 of this year,