County employee appeal process undergoing change

YOURCOUNTY
Jim Baumgart  Sheboygan County Supervisor

Sheboygan County government is blessed with an overall workforce that is hard working, highly skilled, dedicated and does an outstanding job.

They cover many specialty areas including nursing, nurse aides, food service and other work at Rocky Knoll nursing home complex.

We have county highway staff that deal with road, bridges, snow plowing, engineering, surveying, administration and more.

The county staff a large jail and provide skilled sheriff department law enforcement for highway safety and rescue. Skilled key people work to protect our health at the Health and Human Service Department, Sheboygan County Airport, Planning and- Conservation Department - and the list goes on.

They, the county staff, overall work hard and should be treated fairly.

In the recent changes by the Legislature and Governor with Act 10 and the loss of union and bargaining power for municipal workers, there are changes in policies and now different ways of reviewing issues that arise on how to treat workers.

Under the county’s new employee appeal process, not long ago, the Sheriff made an effort to fire an employee. That employee thought he/she was not being treated fairly and appealed.

The last appeal, as required, went before the full Sheboygan County Board. A closed hearing that took maybe two to three hours was held, testimony given, and cross examination provided.

That was followed by about two hours of open discussion and a vote by the full county board which rejected/modified the decision of the Sheriff and County Human Service staff.

Both the Sheriff and County Administrator, after the decision was made by the full county board, made comments indicating their displeasure, excuses for the board’s decision and clearly were unhappy.

The full county board, after looking at all the facts, including over ten years of positive employee work records, work reviews and much more, handed down a decision they thought was fair and just.

They were not going to be a rubber stamp, forced to blindly overreact, or become a “hanging judge” thus driving fear into a workforce that does a difficult job, is dedicated and hard working.

If you want good workers one must be willing to treat them fairly.

It is correct to say that the full Sheboygan County Board did not feel comfortable with the process that took place.

It is also fair to say that a good number of Sheboygan County Supervisors thought the process was not handled well or as professional as it should have been.

As representatives of all of the people in the county, we need to treat any person, business or group fairly and professionally. So it was agreed that a review of the employee appeal process should be completed and modifi- cations made if appropriate.

That employee appeal process review has taken place and a new one proposed. On Tuesday evening, August 19, after earlier going through two committees, it was brought before the full Sheboygan County Board as a new County Ordinance.

Lots of discussion took place. At least one amendment was adopted. A number of county supervisors familiar such personal issues thought there were better and fairer ways of doing it.

This supervisor thought too much power was shifted to the administrative end of the process - after all, justice must be fair. For their own protection, county employees may wish to take time to look closer at the new ordinance.

Next week, to inform the citizens of this county, this column will take time to review the new Ordinance, including the amendment adopted and any other possible changes needed, and concerns that may still be present.


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