At Tuesday’s Human Resources Committee meeting at City Hall, Alderman Ron Barone asked Employee Relations Director Bob Reidy to explain whether the city was in compliance with NY State’s workplace violence laws.
Reidy said that the city’s workplace violence policy was written, but would not be accepted by NY state until all notices of violations the city has received have been addressed. Reidy said since the state law was enacted in 2011, eight violation notices have been received, five have been addressed, two were being worked on, and one new one was being started. He said the largest of the notices being worked on had seven citations and that all but one had been fixed. He expressed frustration with NY State for not offering any clear guidance on how to resolve certain issues.
Mayor Ann Thane spoke in support of Reidy’s work and said, “it takes an enormous amount of time…when we go to the state they answer us without any direction…there’s no clear answer as to what they want. They answer with generalities and vagaries, the goal is illusory…we are really in a rock and a hard place.”
Alderwoman Diane Hatzenbuhler questioned what Reidy’s job entailed on a daily basis.
“What do you generally do during the workday,” asked Hatzenbuhler.
“I work,” said Reidy.
“But what does your work consist of?” asked Hatzenbuhler.
“Diane, I can’t give you a specific item of what I do every single day. I’m there to respond to help with the employees. I’m there to respond to new applicants. I’m there to respond as your DAT which is your drug enforcement for a number of things. There’s a number of things I have to do…you want me to write down minute by minute what I do?”
“Would it be fair to ask you to do a desk audit for one week?”
“It would be totally unfair as far as I’m concerned.”
“In what respect?”
“I just don’t have the time to do it.”
“But you can’t tell me what you’re doing, we have no new employees coming on is that correct?”
“That is incorrect. You think that’s the only thing that gets done upstairs is to work with new employees?”
“That’s why I’m asking what do you do? Can you tell us? If you can’t tell us then maybe if you gave us a desk audit of what you do when you come in during the five days a week it would help us understand what your job is. I think that’s a fair question under the circumstances.”
“I believe we’re here to discuss workplace violence,” said Thane, “and you are going off on a tangent.”
Thane went on to explain the part of the work in progress to was to process a survey of all 210 city employees consisting of 45 questions each. Reidy said that the next step is to query the employees as to solutions to problems brought up in the survey.
“It’s been a tug of war with the state,” said Thane, “Every time we go to them with something it needs additional, it needs to be changed, it’s not good enough. It’s really a problem with the state not knowing what they want.”
Thane pointed out that help should be coming soon with the hiring of a safety officer to be shared between the city and Montgomery County.
“But the county has not moved that yet,” said Thane, “I’ve talked to [County Executive Matt Ossenfort] and several legislators to ask them to please move that forward.”