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Akron, Ohio

Statement of City Personnel Director and Assistant Director of Law, Patricia Ambrose Rubright

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Regarding the Latest Howe v. City of Akron Firefighter Testing Case Decision

City of Akron Press Release
From the desk of stephanie york
Published: 03-11-2015

 

            Today, Judge Adams refused to approve the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) reached between the City of Akron and the Firefighter Union to immediately promote firefighters. 

 

            It is discouraging that the Court twice completely ignored his self selected, appointed Court Monitor.   The Court’s Monitor twice approved the agreement to immediately promote individuals to District Chief, Captain and Lieutenant.  It is even more disturbing that the Court has ignored the facts in its efforts to disparage Akron. 

 

            Since the original jury verdict, the City made multiple attempts to settle this entire litigation including seeking agreement to announce new tests, to no avail.  When it could not wait any longer to resolve the case, the City informed the Court in 2011 it was necessary to announce merit based promotional tests. The Court’s delays and attrition had taken its toll on the Department. Instead of permitting the promotional testing, the Court ordered the immediate promotion of Plaintiffs, without regard to merit and fitness. When the City did announce promotional tests in 2012, the Plaintiffs immediately filed injunctive relief to stop the testing.

 

            The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has yet to hear the merits of the case due to the inordinate delays in District Court. Rather than take any responsibility for these delays and the current lack of promotions, the Court continues its obstruction to promotions by failing to allow immediate promotions to 3 ranks in the Fire Department -- despite approval by the City, 80% of the union, and twice by his Court Monitor.

 

            Additionally, contrary to the Court’s opinion, nearly 60% of Akron voters chose to amend the Charter to give veterans’ and residents’ preference points in hiring and promotion.

 

            Lastly, the Court states on page 7, first full paragraph of his decision, “Moreover, Akron still made no effort to begin a process [to make permanent promotions] following the appeal of this Court’s order of promotion.”  With all due respect to the Court, this statement could not be further from the truth.   There are multiple instances where the City tried to proceed with promotions through Agreement or testing, and those efforts were thwarted:

 

  • On August 15, 2012, the City did formally post job postings and the Plaintiffs’ responded by filing of a Motion for Permanent Injunction to stop the testing.  (See attached Motion cover sheet.)

     

  • Attached to this statement is a Press Release dated May 9, 2014, that accompanied a press conference where the Mayor asked the Union and the Plaintiffs to sign an Agreement that would move testing forward under the specific directed guidance from the court-ordered monitor, while appeals were pending. 

     

  • Throughout the course of this litigation, the Mayor met personally with three different Union Presidents to try to resolve the issues and promote firefighters.  In at least two of these instances, Union presidents presented the proposals to their membership, who rejected the proposals. (Keep in mind, under State Law, the City must have reach agreement with the Union to resolve any grievances.)

     

  • The City and the Union did agree finally to an MOU, which was the subject of this decision.  The Union membership overwhelmingly approved it, the City approved it, and the Court’s own monitor approved it twice – only to be rejected by this Court in the decision that came out today, which is attached. 

                In sum, to say that the City has not even tried to “even begin a process” to make promotions is disingenuous at best.

For further information, contact:
stephanie york
communications director
Phone: 330-375-2345
E-mail: [email protected]

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