Huntington's New Vision of Labor Management Described to Council

by Tony Rutherford HuntingtonNews.Net Reporter
Pictured with Howard (second from left) is Mayor Steve Williams, Public Works Director David Hagley and Kim Carr, program coordinator for the Local Technical Assistance Program
Pictured with Howard (second from left) is Mayor Steve Williams, Public Works Director David Hagley and Kim Carr, program coordinator for the Local Technical Assistance Program
Mayor's Office Photo

"We are setting ourselves apart from other cities,"  Tony Michael,  WVU Labor Studies Director, told Huntington City Council  members during a presentation at a work session before Monday's council meeting. The City , Mayor Steve Williams  and Labor Liaison Teresa Ball partnered with WVU's Extension Service's Institute for Labor Studies and Research in July 2013.

Unlike other cities in West Virginia, Huntington has   significantly unionized police, fire and public works employees. Contrary to perceptions that labor agreements negatively impact cities, Mayor Williams promised a vision of positive labor management relations and through his "leadership and vision" Huntington is prospering,  the report background said.

As part of "getting on the same page" to alter the city's labor/management culture, Michael indicated that employees and supervisors have attended programs ranging from contract education to conflict resolution and progressive discipline. Others included "Rethinking the Grievance Process."where they hope to provide a less contentious alternative dispute resolution" style.

Having collected historical grievance data, the labor studies program presented to an international labor conference in Los Angeles findings relevant to employees who have dual commitments --- both as workers and supervisors.

Williams has praised employees as "world class," particularly stressing their response and working together during the Morris Building fire, flash flooding, and flooding prior to the Marshall-Rhode Island home football game.

As one example of inspiring "engaged" employees, David Howard, a traffic engineering foreman, recently received a West Virginia technical assistance award. Called "Build a Better Mousetrap"  Howard designed a testing system for flash modules in traffic signal boxes which determine those functional. 

 

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