A Macon City Council committee unanimously voted Wednesday to ask the Macon-Bibb County consolidation task force to recommend that all employees be able to stay in their current pension plans, regardless of whether they are vested in their plans.
The new government, which takes effect in January 2014, would have the final say in the matter.
Councilman Tom Ellington, sponsor of the resolution approved by the councils Employee Development & Compensation Committee and a task force member, said he thinks the request is in line with the stated intention of consolidation supporters.
For people that are retired already, theyre not going to see any change in their status, he said. Their benefits are protected under state law.
But the city and county together have about 2,000 employees who will come under the new government. Some of those have worked long enough to be vested in existing pension plans, but many have not.
Ellingtons resolution asks that current city and county pension systems be kept open for all those employees, vested or not, to keep accruing benefits. The new government is likely to create a new pension plan for new hires, but current plans would have to remain in existence for decades anyway, as long as there are beneficiaries, he said.
Another resolution, sponsored by Councilman Lonnie Miley, asks the task force to recommend automatic recognition of employee organizations -- principally, labor unions.
We have that recognition at this moment with the city and the county, he said. We want to maintain that.
Miley, vice president of the local Service Employees International Union, said his resolution is co-sponsored by Councilman Ed DeFore. The ordinance requested from the incoming government wouldnt require union membership by employees but would protect those who already are members, Miley said.
Are these rights not protected already, without this resolution? Councilwoman Nancy White asked Assistant City Attorney Stuart Morelli.
Morelli responded that the major practical effect would be to authorize having members union dues deducted automatically from their paychecks.
Ellington said the task force likely would make a similar recommendation, but its worth stating City Councils preference. The committee endorsed the idea 4-1, with White opposed.
The pension and union measures are expected to come up for full council approval Tuesday.
Bibb County Sheriff David Davis briefed the committee on progress in merging his office with the Macon Police Department. All will have new uniforms and different logos on patrol cars, and the organizational structure will change. But officers from both organizations will be treated fairly, he said.
Council President James Timley asked whether officers disciplinary records would follow them into the new government. Davis replied that any discipline in progress when the transition comes would be allowed to go forward, and that like the rest of their personnel files, disciplinary records would be retained.
Answering questions from Councilmen Henry Gibson and Charles Jones, the sheriff acknowledged that there are disparities in pay throughout the police department and sheriffs office. Those inequalities cant be addressed instantly, but there does need to be a firm plan to equalize pay, Davis said. He promised to insist that all employees be brought up to the same standard, not reduced to match.
I dont see any instance where anyone will lose anything that they have, Davis said.
To contact writer Jim Gaines call 744-4489.