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[February 07, 2014]
West Haven mayor asks city workers for ideas [New Haven Register, Conn. :: ]
(New Haven Register (CT) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Feb. 08--WEST HAVEN -- Many city employees have been on the job for decades but in all that time, they had never experienced what they did on Friday.
Mayor Edward M. O'Brien asked them for suggestions and ideas.
O'Brien, as part of a new "employee-empowerment program," held the first in a series of meetings with city workers, inviting Department of Public Works employees to the Savin Rock Conference Center and the Harriet C. North Community Room in City Hall.
The motivation, the mayor said in a press release, is the belief that workers have the knowledge and expertise to make valuable contributions to help West Haven reduce costs and run more efficiently.
"Many of our employees have 20, 30, 40 years of experience, and they know the work better than anyone," O'Brien said. "Their opinions matter to me and my administration ...
"I feel the meetings were very productive and the employees were very honest," O'Brien said. "What I learned from them is that there is ample room for improvement in a range of areas." For the first half hour of each meeting, O'Brien held brainstorming sessions and listened to employees without their department heads present, which he said let workers "express their best ideas." Supervisors then joined their staff for the second half of each hourlong meeting.
"Actually, I think it's a great idea, and I think the workers are thrilled that somebody is asking them" for input, said Deborah Skerritt, president of Local 681 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents city laborers and some clerical workers.
"Since I've been president or vice president, we've never had a sit-down with the mayor," said Skerritt, who has been president for four years and was vice president for 12 years before that, through the administrations of mayors John Picard and H. Richard Borer Jr.
This is the first time I've ever attended a meeting like that ..." said Skerritt, who works in the city's Information Technology Department. "I thought it was really good. I thought it went pretty well ... and I think the employees feel as if they're being heard too.
According to O'Brien, additional sessions will be scheduled each Friday until employees of every city department meet with him.
Call Mark Zaretsky at 203-789-5722. Have questions, feedback or ideas about our news coverage? Connect directly with the editors of the New Haven Register at AskTheRegister.com.
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