By ELENA DURNBAUGH
After contentious debate, the Macomb Township Board of Trustees narrowly approved a job description for a new human resources manager and a motion to begin recruiting candidates for the position.
At the July 10 board meeting, Supervisor Janet Dunn, Trustee Roger Krzeminski, Trustee Nancy Nevers, and Treasurer Karen Goodhue voted to approve the job description and begin recruiting for a human resources manager.
Clerk Kristi Pozzi, Trustee Tim Bussineau, and Trustee Kath Smith voted against both motions.
Denis Martin spoke on behalf of AFSCME 1917 to oppose adding an HR manager as a non-union position.
“The biggest issue we have with this request is that the township is no eligible to hire another non-represented position in the HR department,” he said.
According to Martin, Macomb Township filed a unit clarification with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC) in 2003 that stated the township is not allowed to have more than two non-union positions in a department.
“Those positions are currently occupied by Mr. Esordi and his confidential assistant,” Martin said.
Thomas Esordi, the Macomb Township general counsel and human resources director, has been at the center of much debate in township government. In April, township Planning Director Patrick Meagher submitted a resignation letter that said Esordi’s dual position had “developed into a conquer-and-control” atmosphere. Purchasing Specialist Cynthia Carnes resigned around the same time, citing similar concerns. At a meeting in May, 20 township managers signed a letter that echoed the statements made in Meagher’s resignation letter. The township human resources specialist also filed a union grievance against Esordi.
On June 12, near the end of a long board meeting, Krzeminski invited Pozzi to attend a meeting to discuss creating a new human resources position.
After the June 12 board meeting, Pozzi said it seemed like an attempt to add another position to the human resources department without negotiating with the union.
“My guess is they didn’t want to take the time to get a negotiated position, and/or they can handpick who they put there, in my opinion,” she said.
Pozzi also said the human resources department was very short-staffed. The secretary who formerly worked in the department was removed, and, up until July 8, the human resources specialist was on a leave of absence. The only other two employees in the department are Esordi and his confidential assistant.
Krzeminski cited short staffing as the reason a new HR manager should be added. He also said he thought the position should be non-union because of its confidential nature.
According to Martin, an HR manager’s position wouldn’t be any more sensitive than any of the other managers and department heads in the township.
“It would be in the department head’s union because it is a manager’s position and that’s what the department heads’ unions are — managers, and supervisors, and department heads,” he said.
During the meeting, Esordi said that he was unaware that the proposed HR manager position violated the 2003 MERC ruling. he added that he would be willing to sit down with the union to discuss and negotiate the position.
Although Martin said he was disappointed with the way members of the board interact with the union, he said he felt the union was making progress being heard.
“I think we’re making some movement as far as putting our voice out there and letting them know we’re fed up with their shenanigans,” he said.
Pozzi had several questions for Esordi that focused on the job duties and pay scale of a new HR manager.
She asked why the need for such a position wasn’t included in the HR audit and wanted to know how the new position would differ from Esordi’s role as HR director.
Esordi said that the audit stated human resources would continue to evaluate staffing in the department, which could include adding a new position. He also said that the duties of the new HR manager were similar to his own as HR director because of the function of the positions.
“It was not my intention at any point that these people would take over those responsibilities,” he said.
Pozzi also asked how Esordi had determined the pay scale for the position, which was set at $80,000 – $91,000.
Esordi said he based the range on the township’s contract with AFSCME, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and information gathered on websites such as Glassdoor. He said he looked at the salaries of HR managers at Ford Motor Company and General Motors, which ranged from $127,000 – $138,000, and companies like Macy’s and Home Depot, which ranger from $60,000 – $70,000.
Esordi said the proposed pay scale was, at some points, lower than current township managers, and was not higher than his position as human resources director. Esordi is one of the highest-paid municipal employees in the state. His dual position as Township Attorney and HR Director was originally created in an attempt to save the township money.
Treasure Goodhue said that the new position was necessary because Esordi’s job had changed. She said HR employees told her they were unable to get things done because of all the things Esordi had to do.
“Everybody said to me they didn’t have a problem with Tom, except for he wasn’t getting things done,” she said. “he’s been bombarded by FOIAs, he’s been bombarded by the legal aspect of everything we have to do. His description change.”
In Macomb Township, FOIAs are handled by the Clerk’s Ofice.
Later in the meeting, Goodhue said that Esordi was busy, but she was “not saying he can’t get his work done.”
“he does need help, and I’m sorry, that’s how I feel,” she said.
As of July 18, the new position has not bee posted on the Macomb Township website. The next Board of Trustees meeting is on Wednesday, July 24, at 7 p.m.