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St. Clair amends employee handbook ahead of re-write

St. Clair City Superintendent Warren Rothe.
St. Clair City Superintendent Warren Rothe.

Move discontinues benefits for part-time employees

By Jim Bloch

Before the end of 2019, the St. Clair City Council voted unanimously to remove a section of its Administrative Employees Agreement that granted health care benefits to part-time employees.

The agreement is the equivalent of a personnel manual for non-union employees.

“The administrative agreement was adopted May 3, 1993 and covers nonunion employees,” said City Superintendent Warren Rothe in a memo to city council, Dec. 11. “The agreement has been sparsely amended over the years and most of it remains the same, despite nearly three decades of changing best practices, laws and policies. A complete rewrite is needed and I am planning on accomplishing this next calendar year. However, one important item needs to be addressed immediately.”

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The item: Health care insurance for part-time employees.

Rothe noted that the agreement spelled out two types of part-time workers, casual part-time and part-time employees. Part-time employees working more than 21 hours a week were eligible for single-person health insurance; casual part-timers were not.

“Offering part-time employees insurance benefits of any kind is an extremely uncommon practice and not one the city can afford,” said Rothe. “Currently, no part-time employees are receiving insurance benefits so changing this policy will not affect current city staff.”

Rothe recommended cutting the section of the handbook that referred to health benefits for part-time employees.

The section now reads: “Hospitalization/medical, dental, drugs and vision coverage shall be afforded to all administrative, department heads/supervisors and non-union employees who are full-time.”

Mayor Pro Tem Mike LaPorte made the motion to amend the agreement, supported by council member Mitch Kuffa, and council approved it 7-0 on Dec. 16.

At the January 6 goal-setting session, Rothe proposed rewriting the personnel manual as part of an overarching set of goals that he grouped under “21st Century Workforce,” which included negotiating a new AFSCME contract with DPW; updating job descriptions and conducting a compensation study, last completed in 1991; creating formal pay ranges for each job and systematizing raises; and modernizing retirement benefits and health insurance coverages with an eye toward long term financial stability.

Rothe also proposed a number of related goals for 2020 under the rubrics of “Financial Stability” and “21st Century Infrastructure,” including multi-year budgeting, a six-year capital improvement plan, a new policy of quarterly budget and investment reports to the city council and vehicle replacement schedules for each department.

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