Friday, 27 July 2018 17:38

Municipal employees benefit from amicable HOPE negotiations

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Mayor Sylvester Turner met with HR Director Jane Cheeks, HOPE President Melvin Hughes, HOPE Executive Director Gary Simmons and chief negotiator Alisa Franklin-Brocks. Mayor Sylvester Turner met with HR Director Jane Cheeks, HOPE President Melvin Hughes, HOPE Executive Director Gary Simmons and chief negotiator Alisa Franklin-Brocks. Photo by Elise Marrion


When municipal employees see a 3 percent raise on their August 3 paycheck, they’re benefiting from months of organization, research, negotiation and collaboration between the City of Houston and Houston Organization of Public Employees - HOPE AFSCME Local 123. 

The agreement provides across-the-board wage increases of 3 percent in Fiscal Year 2019, 2 percent in Fiscal Year 2020, and 1 percent in Fiscal Year 2021, with the possibility of an additional 1 percent wage increase in Fiscal Year 2021 if city property taxes and sales taxes reach a specified level.

Dedicated city employees sat on both sides of the table to reach a mutual agreement on the new three-year term ending June 30, 2021.  After the contract was ratified by HOPE members and approved by City Council, Mayor Sylvester Turner said he was pleased with the process and the outcome of the negotiations.

“It went very smoothly,” he said. “In the end, it was a win-win for both the employees and the City of Houston. It was an example of when you come to the table in good faith, you can get a good result. I think when people recognize that you are not working against them, you can get there together.”

During Turner’s administration, the city has overcome financial hardships without layoffs, and was able to find room in the budget for municipal raises. Mayor Turner said that this contract shows that the city acknowledges the recent shared sacrifices made by employees.

 “You have to respect what people do and recognize the value that people bring,” Mayor Turner said. “When you deal with people in good faith, people will be willing to make sacrifice in difficult times if they believe that will be rewarded for those sacrifices when things improve.”

Both HOPE President Melvin Hughes and HOPE Executive Director Gary Simmons echoed the mayor’s sentiments.

“I think this is great for city employees,” Hughes said. “It means a lot when you know that your employer appreciates you. It means a lot to be able to have a voice, have a seat at the table and then walk away from negotiations with a good feeling.”

Simmons attributed the successful outcome to a strong spirit of collaboration. 

“It didn’t feel adversarial at all,” Simmons said. “We all felt there were tasks to get accomplished from both sides, but the only way to get there is through a collaborative effort.”

Alisa Franklin-Brocks takes first-time role as chief negotiator

Franklin BrocksSIdebar

When the Legal Department passed the HOPE negotiations torch to Human Resources for the first time, Alisa Franklin-Brocks took the torch and ran with it. 

Franklin-Brocks, a staff analyst in HR’s Employee/Labor Relations division, stepped up as chief negotiator for the city. 

Franklin-Brocks was the voice of city management and was responsible for reaching a feasible and receptive agreement with HOPE. Franklin-Brocks, who has worked for the city since 2007, said she has been involved with HOPE negotiations over the years, and she was honored to take on a leadership role.  

“The various roles I have played in HR prepared me to be chief negotiator,” Franklin-Brocks said. “I’ve always been one of the persons HOPE and colleagues would contact about the HOPE agreement, civil service rules and ordinances, personnel policies and procedures. I work closely with the other unions for the Police and Fire departments on their civil service related matters as well.  The City had a great team representing them from HR, Finance, and Legal.” 

“Stepping up as chief negotiator was a progression of the HR related projects I’ve done in the past,” she said. “If given the opportunity, I would love to represent the city again.”

Kelly Shreck, division manager of HR Employee Relations and Chief Learning Officer of the Learning and Development Center, nominated Franklin-Brocks for the job. 

“Alisa’s extensive knowledge of policies, procedures and processes and her exceptional project management skills made her well-suited for this role,” Shreck said. 

HR Director Jane Cheeks praised Franklin-Brocks for her performance.

“Truly all she has done in HR, and being involved with both previous negotiation with the Legal Department, prepared her for doing this,” Cheeks said. “She made it look seamless, she made it look like she had always been doing it. She was definitely part of why we reached a successful outcome.”

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