Tuesday, August 08, 2006

More Than A Double Take!

What’s wrong with this picture?

This is John Martinez.

He was the Director of Personnel and Employee Relations Department for many years. From the inception of the city government’s dealings with organized employee labor unions, Martinez was the point man of the management philosophy until he retired in 1988, and beyond. He now owns Management Associates, a contracting company that deals with governments in New Mexico, consulting on labor management issues.

He is seen here with his daughter, an attorney, Dina Holcomb, along with Director of Employee Relations Peggy Hardwick, also an attorney. They were at a July 11, 2000, Labor-Management Relations Board hearing where Management Associates was contracted by the City of Albuquerque to handle a labor issue.

Thirty-six years ago, City refuse collectors staged a wildcat strike blocking the entrance to the City’s Pino Yards on September 17, 1970.

Deputy Chief of Police Albert Swallows was on his way home and went to the Pino Yards with a couple of officers to try to talk the workers into clearing the area. Chief Swallows, at the time, knew most of the leaders of the blue-collar workers and felt he could talk them into reopening the gate.

Two of the Chief's sons had been assistant managers of both the Refuse and Sewer Divisions. Some of the laborers apparently did not care who the Chief was and attacked him. He was hit in the face and the gate was pushed over on top of him. The other officers were able to get him out from under the fence and called for assistance. Additional officers arrived and the crowd was dispersed.

Chief Swallows retired in 1975 with more than 39 years of service.

Here is Officer Tim Kline standing with Sergeant Nicholas Bachis and other officers who responded to Pino yards to assist Swallows after strikers attacked him. Officer Kline retired as a lieutenant in 1988. He was elected to the City Council in 1989-1993 for one term and elected again to another single term on the council - 1997-2001.

Another son of Chief Swallows, Scott, is an Albuquerque police officer currently assigned to the Southeast area command working day shift.

Martinez was the Director of the Personnel Department, what is now called Human Resources, which included labor management. According to Martinez, he split labor management from personnel and became Director of Employee Relations, “around 1974 or 75.“

Martinez retired in June, 1988. His assistant was Jim Swan who had been an American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union leader. Swan replaced Martinez as acting director.

Bob Brown was also an AFSCME Council 18 organizer, hired by Martinez, who became the second Director of Employee Relations about 1989.

Peggy Hardwick, right, was an Assistant City Attorney who also became Director of Employee Relations.

Joe Chavez, a former staff representative of AFSCME Council 18 for the City's blue-collar workers' Local 624, became Director
of Employee Relations for a short period of time.

Former AFSCME White-collar President Barbara Martinez-Chewiwi-Keiser, below left, was promoted out of her bargaining unit to a supervisory position. She would later become Director of employee relations until retiring several weeks ago.

This is Employee Relations contractor Paul Broome, above right. He was a former Labor Board city-management appointee, 1995-97, and had previously served as a business manager for a teacher’s union. He was recently appointed education consultant to Mayor Martin Chávez to implement Chávez' attempted take over of Albuquerque Public Schools.

This is Lawrence Torres who was recently appointed Director of Employee Relations by Mayor Chávez. The job brings with it an $80,000 salary.

Are congratulations in order? Not today!

Torres is a former President of the Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association. He was an Open Space Ranger who was elected Vice President of the APOA before replacing President Jeff Remington, who stepped down when he was promoted to sergeant.

Torres was a member of several APOA negotiating teams, most recently serving as lead negotiator in the negotiations that concluded only a couple of months ago.

So what’s wrong with this picture?

The Mayor’s offer, and Torres' acceptance, of an $80,000 job is an unconscionable act. Torres is to the man who negotiated the current contract; he is now required to enforce the contract. How can he do that? When questions of an unfair labor practice arise in the implementation of the contract, it is often the chief negotiator who testifies to the meaning of the document and what the discussion and background was in hammering out specific provisions.

As Director of Employee Relations, he is now duty-bound to take the opposing position. It is a clear conflict of interest from two points; he cannot fulfill either role of former chief negotiator or employee relations director.

Chávez places Torres in an impossible position. Torres cannot pass up the opportunity to almost double his salary, but it is unethical for him to even consider taking the job. The blame belongs to the mayor for corrupting the process.

This, in and of itself, is an unfair labor practice where Torres would have to defend the City against himself!


Anonymous said...

Correction: Torres was Appointed APOA President by the Board and was never elected.

M.G. Bralley said...

MGB Says: I never said Torres was elected APOA President, he was elected Vice President and assumed the role of President when Jeff Remington was promoted and stepped down.

For Pete's Sake said...

It just doesn't get better than this for Pete's sake.