Ethics: Advisory Opinion NO. 2005-1

Advisory Opinion NO. 2005-1

 

Further Application Of Code Of Ethics To Labor Representative On The

Waterbury Financial Planning And Assistance Board

 

            Stephen Laccone, President of AFSCME Local 353 and the labor representative on the Waterbury Financial Planning and Assistance Board (“Board”), has asked the Ethics Commission for a further interpretation of the application of the Code of Ethics for Public Officials, Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-79 et seq., to the Board’s labor representative.  Specifically, he has asked whether he may participate as a negotiator on behalf of his bargaining unit on a new agreement between the City of Waterbury and the bargaining unit, until such time as the issue of the contract is presented to the Board for action.

 

            The Board was created by Special Act No. 01-1 to oversee the financial affairs of the City of Waterbury (“City”).  The Board’s responsibilities include approving, rejecting or modifying the collective bargaining agreements between the City and its unions.  See §11(a)(4). The Special Act specifies that the membership of the Board must include a chief executive officer of a bargaining unit representing City employees. See §10(a).  In Advisory Opinion No. 2003-18, 65 Conn. Law J. No. 24, p.6C (12/9/03), the Ethics Commission held that the Board’s labor representative could participate in the Board’s strategy and negotiation sessions regarding his union’s contract, provided that he prepared a statement under Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-86(a) declaring his potential conflict of interest and indicating that he would not take part in the union’s strategy sessions regarding the pending contract.  The Ethics Commission further held that in requiring a Board member to be the head of a City union at the same time that the Board exercised authority over all collective bargaining agreements, the General Assembly anticipated the active involvement of the labor representative:  “As the Commission has long held, when the General Assembly appoints an individual to an office where such an inherent conflict

exists, the Legislature is, in essence, making a policy determination that the individual’s specific experience and expertise outweigh the potential conflicts.”

 

            Applying this logic to the facts presented by Mr. Laccone, it is reasonable to conclude that the General Assembly did not intend to prevent the Board’s labor representative from participating in his union’s contract negotiations with the City prior to any Board involvement.  Therefore, Mr. Laccone is not precluded by the Code of Ethics from participating in the preliminary negotiations between the City and his union.  If, however, the matter comes before the Board, he may only participate in the Board’s deliberations if he files a §1-86 statement and refrains from taking any further part in his union’s sessions regarding the contract.

 

 By order of the Commission,

 Hugh C. Macgill, Chairperson

 



Content Last Modified on 9/27/2005 9:42:59 AM