By Julie BUTCHER
On Tuesday night, the Glendale City Council approved a three-year contract with most of the city’s workers and authorized spending $1.26 million to fund the new agreement.
The memorandum of understanding covers nearly 700 city workers, the largest bargaining unit in the city, and runs from July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2024. According to Matt Doyle, human resources director, the agreement was ratified by 79% of the workers, following four months of challenging bargaining.
“The priorities of the GCEA [Glendale City Employees Association] were to maintain a reasonably competitive compensation structure – partly in light of what it costs to live here,” said Doyle. “Last year, in what were the early stages of the pandemic, GCEA agreed to a one-year contract extension that included no increases. This agreement provides for modest adjustments.”
He explained further some of the deal points: workers will receive pay raises of approximately 2% each year in combined wage adjustments and small reductions in retiree cost-sharing as well as “significant relief” from employee medical insurance costs.
Doyle noted a few classifications of workers targeted for specific changes: environmental inspectors, engineers in the water section who get water distribution licenses, mechanics who obtain ASE certifications, records workers in the police department to fix inequities among civilian workers, 5% extra for fire dispatch employees working as leads (rather than a fixed hourly amount).
Additionally, the Council took steps to implement the ordinance it has been discussing governing “disposable foodware accessories” – plasticware items.
“In 2016, 561 billion plastic utensils were used in the U.S.,” David Jones, city sustainability officer, said detailing the history of the legislation and the outstanding details of implementation, including an introductory phase-in period during which there will be educational materials and opportunities provided to restaurant and business owners.
One resident called in to support the measure.
“It’s not just landfills; our oceans are in really bad shape [containing] plastic by the millions of tons, so anything we can possibly do [is important]. I listened to the LA council meeting and they’re using plastic for repaving streets. LA doesn’t do very much correctly but that’s a positive. There needs to be more inroads into removing plastics – all single-use plastic, the bags, all of it. We have to come up with solutions that work. Otherwise, we’re not going to be around.”
Craig Cadwallader called in as an active member of the Surfrider Foundation to urge support.
“Many people give positive reviews to restaurants that do things to protect the environment – there was a report from UCLA: not only do businesses save money, but also see increased good will from their customers. This is good for business, good for consumers, and good for the environment,” Cadwallader told the Council. “Syncing with LA’s ‘Skip the Stuff’ ordinance makes sense to avoid confusion.”
“These packets of plasticware cost about 15 cents each,” said Councilmember Dan Brotman holding up an example from the Council’s Tuesday night food delivery. “That adds up.”
Councilmember Ardy Kassakhian indicated that he supports getting rid of single-use plastics but that he does not want to harm business, especially small family businesses.
Responding to a request from Council, city transit manager Martha D’Andrea reported on the status of shade at the city’s bus stops. D’Andrea called it a “quality of life investment” and cited two reasons to install shade at bus stops: first to address global warming as the increase in temperature makes it more uncomfortable for passengers to sit in the sun waiting for a bus and, secondly, to add transit amenities to help attract transit riders that can encourage new riders by providing a comfortable place to wait.
As of 2017, Glendale had 467 bus stops. Of those, 116 had bus shelters; 351 did not. Of the 351 that did not have shelters, 234 were not able to accommodate a standard shelter.
D’Andrea shared pictures of devices being used and tested that reportedly provide shade via a pole with a device that moves with the sun; one was called a sunshade blade model. She also noted that it might be possible to include other transit amenities, such as static or real-time bus arrival information, lighting and charging stations, as examples.
“The action here is to seek and find funding and prioritize locations and research the best designs – I do support this,” Councilmember Ara Najarian spoke in support of exploring next steps. “There’s going to be a lot more people riding transit in the future; we want to make it as comfortable and inviting as possible.”
Brotman expressed concern about the number of stops with high boarding numbers: “These are heavily used bus stops.”
“It highlights a real problem that for many, many years we’ve prioritized moving cars over the safety and convenience of pedestrians and transit riders,” he said, “so we have these narrow streets.”
He suggested that trees might be part of the solution to adding shade.
The Council expects to hear an update on the state of the community forest next week.
The Council heard an update on making the “slow streets” pilot permanent and approved spending on up to 300 signs. Principal traffic engineer Pastor Casanova assured the council the signs would be updated and their placement would be “equitable” throughout the city.
“They tended to end up in North Glendale where people are more likely to speak up,” Brotman said. “It’s an issue of equity.”
Najarian asked city staff to research additional penalties for “whacking” a “slow streets” sign, either negligently or inadvertently.
The council adjourned in memory of Art Devine, Glendale community member and husband of Glendale mayor Paula Devine.
Comments by Ardy Kassakhian regarding the death of Art Devine:
“It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of longtime Glendale commissioner, mayor’s husband, and devoted community member, Art Devine. His contributions to the City of Glendale have made our community stronger and where his legacy will be long-lasting.
“Arthur Charles Devine was born in Los Angeles. He graduated from UC Berkeley with a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering and received a Master of Public Administration from the University of Southern California. He was a state-licensed civil, structural, and fire protection engineer, and during his 36-year career with the City of Los Angeles Dept. of Building and Safety, he held various positions including, chief of Earthquake Safety Division, chief of Inspection Bureau, and executive officer. During this time, he met and married Paula, the love of his life, and they shared a beautiful life together.
“Since his retirement in 1997, Art volunteered in various places, with a goal of giving back to the community. Given his love of animals, Art volunteered at the Wildlife Waystation. He also volunteered as an arbitrator for the Better Business Bureau, served as an ombudsman at CBS Television, and chaired the City of Los Angeles United Way Campaign. He was a member of the Glendale Fire Foundation as well as the Glendale Police Foundation, where he received the first ‘Volunteer of the Year’ award for his services.
“Art continued his volunteer work serving the Glendale community on various boards and commissions. He served on the Glendale Board of Zoning Appeals, the Glendale Building and Fire Board of Appeals, and the Civil Service Commission, on which he served for 12 years. Art said that he continued his volunteer work for so many years because, ‘there is nothing more rewarding and gratifying than knowing you are helping people and making a difference by giving your time and resources without wanting, expecting or receiving anything in return.’
“Aside from spending time volunteering, Art and Paula traveled extensively to all corners of the world, spanning almost every continent. Their travels have taken them from Katmandu to Bali, from Shanghai to Rwanda, from Korea to Armenia, and everywhere in between.
“Art, alongside his partner Paula, was a fixture in the Glendale community, dedicated to improving the quality of life for everyone. He loved Paula very much, and was her rock, supporting her through all her volunteer efforts as well her successful campaign to serve on the Glendale City Council, where she is now mayor. He left an indelible mark on Glendale, and will be greatly missed.
“As we mourn the loss of Art Devine, we extend to his wife, Mayor Paula Devine, and his family our sincere sympathy. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.”
~ Ardy Kassakhian, Sept. 14, 2021