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  • 22 Sep 2014

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Union may appeal employee discipline

The Bureau of Development Services has fired an electrical inspector and suspended four others for repeatedly taking extended brunches, according to sources familiar with the situation.

The employees were reported to the city last November by Brian McAdams, the owner Guild’s Lake Inn, a diner at Northwest 29th Avenue and Yeon Street. McAdams told KOIN Local 6 the employees came in regularly at about 7:30 a.m. and spent 45 minutes to one hour and 15 minutes there.

“They would sit in a specific area, you know, two or three times a week, and just come in and order like everybody else,” McAdams said.

McAdams said the behavior went on for years before he reported it.

“I think I came back one day. It was in the morning, and I think I kind of took a 180 and said, ‘Gosh, everybody’s working so hard for less. These people need to know that. They need to work a little harder for less. And to realize that it’s a struggle for everybody,’ “ McAdams said.

McAdams also regrets not contacting the city earlier. “I’ll be honest, I regret not saying something sooner. There’s no excuse for it. I should have said something five years ago, and I told the city that,” McAdams told KOIN Local 6.

City officials declined to identify the employees or discuss details of the situation, saying it was a confidential personnel matter. No reasons were given for the firing of one inspector while others were suspended.

Mayor Charlie Hales said all of the employees misused city time and resources, however.

“The city has policies and bureau-specific work rules regarding use of work time and city resources,” Hales said in a prepared statement. “These are routinely communicated to employees.”

The union representing the employees must decide whether to appeal the disciplinary actions through the grievance procedure in the labor contract with the city. The bargaining unit is represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 48.

Although union representatives would not comment on the situation, labor lawyers say there are several grounds for appeal, including whether city business was conducted during the extended gatherings and whether other BDS employees had been disciplined for doing similar things.

McAdams has owned the diner in the Northwest industrial area for 12 years. “I don’t imagine I’ll have a lot of city and state employees coming through my doors and eating,” McAdams said.

This is not the first time Portland employees have been disciplined for misusing city time and resources. Several were punished for taking extensive breaks when Vera Katz was mayor. Partly in response, Katz changed the official logo to “The City That Works.”