Rated one of Pennsylvania's top blog/sites, the LuLac Political Letter delves into issues of politics on all levels (with special concentration on Luzerne and Lackawanna Counties: thus the name LULAC) and pop culture.
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
The LuLac Edition #2168, August 22nd, 2012
Our “Write On Wednesday” logo.
WRITE ON WEDNESDAY
DO WORKERS SAY NO TO ETHICS
Workers from the county unions are saying they are not going to sign an Ethics Pledge. Union leaders don’t want them to sign anything that might interfere with language in their contracts. Taxpayers are not happy that the union is even hesitating. Mike Buffer sorted it out and we feature that on this week’s “Write On Wednesday”.
Some Luzerne County employees are refusing to sign forms required to show they will abide by terms of the county's new ethics code, officials said Monday.
Issues with signing the forms involve whether the ethics code applies to employees in unions with collective bargaining agreement and employees in the judicial branch or other offices that operate independently from the executive branch.
Any employee who doesn't sign the form by Friday's deadline should be fired, Kingston resident Brian Shiner said at an ethics commission meeting.
"So you want to have separation of powers? Let's separate them from their paychecks," Shiner told commission members. "You need to be firm. You need to stop being wishy-washy."
Controller Walter L. Griffith Jr., one of five members of the ethics commission, said he will file an ethics complaint against every employee who does not sign the form.
The commission can take disciplinary action against county officials and employees if it finds them guilty of violating the home-rule charter or ethics code.
County Manager Robert Lawton, who also serves on the ethics commission, said he doesn't plan to fire employees who don't sign the forms because they can still be punished for violating terms of the code.
Paula Schnelly, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees' Local 1398, said the code references a table of penalties but doesn't include a table of penalties.
"So how can you sign it, when you don't know everything in it," Schnelly said.
The ethics code says the manager must approve a disciplinary system, which includes a table of offenses and penalties, within four months after county personnel code becomes official.
The personnel code became effective May 10.
Schnelly said a proposed table of penalties she reviewed conflicts with terms in her union's collective bargaining agreements.
Her union represents about 500 county employees.
The county has more than 1,520 employees, and more than 1,200 of them are represented by unions. More than 300 county employees work in the judicial branch.
The ethics code defines unethical behavior for county officials, employees and appointees. Officials and employees are required to "expose corruption wherever discovered" and are prohibited from using positions to receive payments, contracts, loans, privileges and personal advantages.
County council adopted the ethics code April 24. It went into effect May 24.
According to the code, the manager is responsible for communicating the provisions of the ethics code in an employee handbook.
"As a condition of continued employment, each person shall sign a statement to the effect that he or she has received such copy, understands its contents, and agrees to abide by established policies," the code says.
Ethics Commission Chairwoman Margaret Hogan suggested talking to employees to resolve disputes over the code and the form.
Michael Buffer is a reporter for the Citizen’s Voice.
Location: Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, United States
Author of the book "A Radio Story/We Wish You Well In Your Future Endeavors" and "Leges Vitae" "26 Rules of Life" and the new novel, "Weather Or Knot". The blog editor also writes various news articles and columns as well as upcoming literary projects. The blog editor was a frequent guest on WYOU TV'S INTERACTIVE NEWSCASTS when political issues were discussed on the national, state and local level. Currently, Yonki is a weekly panelist on WYLN TV 35's Friday Topic A program. He also appears on the Hazleton, PA. stations Election Night coverage and does special projects and stories for WYLN TV 35's 10PM Newscast "Late Edition".