Union Is Watching I.T. Decision

    Following a failed attempt to gain town board approval to issue a request for proposals to outsource East Hampton Town’s information technology services, the town’s internal audit division has distributed a survey to all town employees to assess the performance of the Information Technology Department.
    Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson offered the resolution to seek private service providers on June 7, but it was defeated along party lines in a 2-to-2 vote. Councilman Dominick Stanzione was not present at that meeting, but when the matter was raised again at a meeting on Tuesday, he said he would not support it.
    The Information Technology Department provides computer support to all arms of the town, and oversees such things as software licensing.  
    In a letter dated June 12, Chalene Kagel, the town’s chief auditor, asked employees and department heads to anonymously complete the survey, so that the division could issue a report. The survey asks respondents to rate their satisfaction with several aspects of I.T. services, such as response time, professionalism, and ability to solve problems. It asks employees to rate how important various areas are to them and asks department heads to rate how the I.T. Department’s services have “affected the efficiency and effectiveness of your department.”
    Town employees, concerned that soliciting peer review of the department’s performance violated the terms of their union contract, and Ed Pluchino, the acting East Hampton Civil Service Employees Association president, referred the survey to Jay Diaz, a regional labor relations specialist for the C.S.E.A.
    Mr. Diaz said yesterday that town officials are within their rights as managers to survey employees about I.T.’s performance, particularly if they are developing a cost-benefit analysis.
    However, he said, if the information collected is used in any action against employees without a negotiation, the union would step in. “If the survey is used in any way to undermine, diminish, or abolish” jobs, he said, “the union will take action.”  
    Mr. Diaz said he had spoken with Mr. Wilkinson and put him on notice. The union representative had appeared at the June 7 meeting to express concerns about outsourcing the technology services.
    There are four employees in the Information Technology Department. One, Heath Liebman, is the town union president, and another, Kay Hutton, is its secretary. Bob Pease, the department head, is a former union president.
    In another vote on June 7, the board agreed to issue a request for proposals for an outside town justice court prosecutor. According to John Jilnicki, the town attorney, the attorney’s office is looking into having prosecutions done by an independent attorney in order to free up town staff for other town matters.