The Pattonville Fire Protection District operates with a progressive labor/management philosophy in making all decisions pertaining to the continual operation of the district. The goal of this philosophy is to establish a positive relationship between labor and management which is built upon trust and mutual respect. The Pattonville Fire Protection District began using the labor/management process in 1996. The process brings labor and management together to work on mutual objectives and to discuss areas of disagreement or conflict. This relationship is then used to create action plans designed to meet the needs of our internal customers (Pattonville Fire District members) and our external customers (those who receive our service). Our labor/management process does not take the place of the negotiating process between the employee groups and the district.
The Pattonville labor/management model shows that the relationship between each of the sides is not hierarchical but relies upon an integrated interdependency with overlapping roles and responsibilities which change with each issue. Planning committee members consist of the Chief and his selected representatives and the Union Shop Steward and his selected representatives.
The planning team creates a virtual organization within the department that is flexible and can respond quickly to solve organizational and service delivery problems. There are sub-teams that branch off of the planning team. These sub-teams consist of areas of concern or relevance that need thorough research. These sub-teams can be ongoing or may dissolve after resolution. Sub-team findings are ultimately passed up to the planning team with their recommendations. Sub-teams are a very important part of the process. Ideally sub-teams should consist of two representatives from the Planning Team. These two members should represent both labor and management and should serve as co-chairs. Meetings are posted in advance to team members and all meetings are open to anyone interested.
The labor/management process graphs the way issues are processed. Issues enter the process from either labor or management and are either assigned to a sub-team or discussed at the planning level. The team analyzes each issue before they decide on a specific action. After specific action has been taken, an evaluation of that action will be taken after a determined amount of time.
The labor/management process works because the leadership on both sides wants it to work. Everyone works hard to make it successful. The most important part of the process is the relationship between labor and management and the relationships established by each of the players. No single issue is worth destroying a relationship. Strong, effective relationships allow us to tackle and solve the most difficult problems. As a result of this dialogue and structure grievances are rare.
The labor/management philosophy requires all participants to trust and respect one another and both sides to consider each other as legitimate players. As stated earlier, the Planning Team does not replace negotiations between the employee groups and the fire district. Both sides maintain their autonomy and responsibility. However, both sides recognize the importance of providing a process for everyone to participate at the level they desire. Each member has his or her own unique point of view. The diversity of skills, talents and viewpoints strengthens the problem solving process and improves the quality of service we provide for our customers both inside and outside the department.
The Planning Team process is a win–win process for everyone. The members win; the customers win; and the taxpayers win.