Resolution Ensuring a Modern and Sustainable Personnel Management and Benefit System to Attract and Retain Public Employees, Provide Excellent Municipal Services, and Ensure Prudent Use of Taxpayer Dollars (2015)

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As adopted by the members on January 24, 2015.
 
Whereas, cities and towns are committed to a modern personnel management and benefit system that attracts and retains valuable employees, allows for the delivery of high-quality municipal services, and ensures the equitable and prudent use of taxpayer dollars; and
 
Whereas, the municipal personnel management system includes many components that are highly regulated by state law, which includes civil service, collective bargaining, unemployment benefits, health insurance for active employees, and pensions and Other Post Employment Benefits [OPEBs] for retired employees; and
 
Whereas, collectively, cities and towns are among the largest employers in the Commonwealth, and the salaries and benefits for public employees consume, on average, 70 percent or more of local budgets; and
 
Whereas, cities and towns have an obligation to their residents, taxpayers, employees and retirees to effectively and efficiently manage personnel decisions and make certain that wages and benefits are sustainable, because this is necessary to ensure that communities can continue to deliver essential services to their residents and businesses, and prevent reductions in the municipal workforce caused by costs that grow faster than incoming revenues; and
 
Whereas, the Commonwealth must assist cities and towns in this endeavor by providing local officials with the flexibility and ability to effectively manage at the local level, and must oppose any proposals that would erode existing municipal decision-making authority; and
 
Whereas, several personnel management and benefit laws have been updated in recent years, yet important work remains to ensure that municipal officials have access to modern tools to recruit and retain employees and offer wages and benefits that are both competitive and sustainable;
 
Therefore, in order to ensure a modern personnel system that attracts and retains public employees, provides for excellent municipal services, and efficiently uses taxpayer dollars, it is hereby resolved by the members of the Massachusetts Municipal Association as follows:
 
The cities and towns of the Commonwealth respectfully call on the Legislature and Administration to take the following actions:
 
• Allow the civil service system to be rescinded by cities and towns on a local-option basis, without the obligation to impact bargain and without the approval from the Legislature, with a provision that cities and towns still have the option to retain aspects of the system, such as for the initial hiring of public safety personnel;
 
• Pass legislation that includes significant and meaningful municipal unemployment insurance reform, so that municipal employees who work on behalf of the schools cannot collect unemployment benefits during school vacations if they have a reasonable assurance of returning to their jobs, and to provide an offset in UI benefits to address the issue of retirees who collect a pension from the municipality also collecting unemployment benefits if they return to work for the municipality and reach the statutory 960-hour employment cap;
 
• Collaborate with local officials to ensure greater accountability for local and regional pension boards, many of which operate independently and make decisions with significant financial impact on local taxpayers and community budgets;
 
• Safeguard the Municipal Health Insurance Reform Act of 2011, continue to offer local officials effective tools to manage growing health care costs, and ensure that all communities equally share the local option flexibility to implement a variety of contribution percentages for retired employees;
 
• Oppose any proposal to reestablish compulsory binding arbitration, a system that was eliminated by the citizens as part of Proposition 2½ in 1980, which would cripple local budgets by preventing local legislative bodies from determining whether arbitration awards are affordable and sustainable;
 
• Ensure a well-managed, appropriately funded Joint Labor-Management Committee for Police and Fire (JLMC) in order to execute timely, fair resolution of management-public safety collective bargaining disputes, and adoption of measures at the JLMC and the Department of Labor Relations to ensure balanced arbitration decisions that give full consideration to municipal and taxpayer interests;
 
• Recognize that OPEB reform is necessary to guarantee that cities and towns can continue to offer high-quality insurance benefits to municipal retirees and to protect essential municipal and school services from being reduced because of growing OPEB costs that consume a larger and larger share of local budgets, by enacting a comprehensive and meaningful OPEB reform bill to ensure that retiree health insurance costs are affordable and sustainable now and in the future, including increasing the years of service needed to qualify and prorating benefits based on years worked, with no new unfunded mandates imposed on communities, and ensuring that all municipalities maintain and equally share the local authority to establish contribution percentages for current and future retirees; and
 
• Oppose the imposition of any new unfunded mandates, preemption of local authority, or reduction in the existing local decision-making authority that cities and towns now use to control personnel costs; and
 
It is further resolved that a copy of this resolution shall be provided to the Governor and members of the General Court of the Commonwealth.