Progress or Peril: Citywide Labor-Management Committee On PSCs

Last April, the City and Unions broke new ground when they launched a citywide labor-management committee, charged with recommending improvements to current city practices of outsourcing work through Personal Services Contracts (PSCs) and Job Order Contracts (JOCs)/ Construction Maintenance Agreements. At our first meeting, labor representatives expressed the need for increased transparency and accountability in the PSC process, and the hope that we can be creative and explore how to achieve cost savings and support the General Fund.

Since April, labor representatives have focused on two major areas: increasing transparency and accountability, by tracking, reviewing, and monitoring requests for and approvals of PSCs, and; promoting “Knowledge Transfer,” by expanding training, knowledge, and skills of City employees to meet the changing service and technological needs of the City, and to do work which is currently outsourced due to the need for specialized skills and expertise. Soon, we will focus on increasing implementation of workload forecasting.

 

Progress has been made. As a result of the work of the Local 21-CCSF PSC Committee, which preceded the citywide PSC Committee, and with the urging and persistence of Local 21 Representatives, a citywide PSC database has been constructed by the Department of Technology which will enable monitoring, tracking, and reporting of PSCs issued by City departments, including the type of work, reasons supporting the request, and monetary amounts requested for approval. The PSC database is in the pilot stage before launching. Our current task is to keep the process moving to implementation, targeted for January-February 2012.

 

Knowledge Transfer a Key Priority

At the citywide PSC Committee unions have made the case to strengthen Knowledge Transfer and expand internal City capacity to do work “in-house.” In our work outside the Committee, Local 21 has successfully negotiated with departments to include knowledge transfer as a part of PSCs. Last June, for example, as part of a Staff Development Program PSC, the PUC agreed to include three new positions in the FY 2011-12 budget to maintain and develop their Staff Development Program.  

 

Despite these major strides, our work is far from complete. Our goal is to present joint Committee recommendations to the Civil Service Commission in January or February, 2012. These recommendations may include clarifying what “factors” departments may use, like “specialized skills” or “peak workload,” to request Civil Service approval of PSCs.

 

Is the City Regressing?

We are facing some troublesome City proposals that do not clarify, but rather seek to expand the ability of departments to outsource. One mechanism the City is proposing is to allow outsourcing simply if a City board or commission adopts a policy that outsourcing is preferable to using City staff. Such proposals are perilous and threaten to undermine accountability and the Civil Service system, and politicize awarding of City work. We will keep you apprised of progress or peril on this issue.

 

Created during the last contract negotiations, the PEC-CCSF PSC Committee is composed of eight representatives from the Public Employee Committee (PEC) and eight representatives from City departments. Labor is represented by members from Local 21, SEIU 1021, and the San Francisco Building Trades Council. City Departments include: DPH; DPW; HSA; MTA; PUC; RecPark; and SFO.