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Harp Picks Paca As City Labor Chief

by Melissa Bailey | Jul 1, 2014 9:00 am

(29) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: City Hall, Labor

Thomas MacMillan File Photo Marcus Paca returns to City Hall Tuesday as the city’s new $98,000-per-year labor relations director.

Paca, who’s 37, beat out two other candidates for the mayorally appointed post—activist Clifton Graves and Alder Claudette Robinson-Thorpe—according to Mayor Toni Harp.

“I’m just happy that the mayor and her chief of staff had the confidence in me” to do the job, said Paca (pictured). “I worked really really hard acquiring the skills and knowledge that are going to make me effective for this position.”

Paca, who represented Edgewood on the Board of Alders from 2010 to 2011, said he now lives in Wooster Square.

Unlike many of his predecessors in the position, Paca is not a lawyer. Paca said he holds a bachelor’s in political science from Hampton University in Virginia and a master’s in business administration and management from Southern Connecticut State University.  A law degree is preferable, but not required, for the position, according to the city’s job description. It calls for a candidate with “at least 7 to 10 years experience in labor negotiating activities.”

Harp said she chose Paca because “he was very enthusiastic about the job. He’s had many jobs over the years that show he could handle responsibility, and he’s a fast learner.”

“I think people will be happy with him,” she said.

She said Paca is “very bright” and has experience “developing jobs for people” and doing marketing. He has strong “analytical skills,” she said.

“Most of our negotiations [with labor unions] are done by an outside firm,” Harp added.

Paca outlined his qualifications in an interview.

Paca said while he has never negotiated a labor contract, he has settled other kinds of contracts—multimillion-dollar marketing contracts with national companies. Prior to coming to New Haven about five years ago, he spent five years working at Verizon Wireless in New Jersey, where he “headed up a multimillion-dollar segment of their youth marketing program.” In that job, he negotiated deals with the NBA, X-Games, and the U.S. Army, he said.

“I do have contract experience,” he said. “I know how to work with lawyers.”

“I think those negotiations and those experiences are going to do me fine when it comes down to the nitty-gritty and the verbiage” of settling labor contracts, he said.

“This job is not just about the contracts,” Paca added. “This is about the personal communications that have to happen between the city and the unions.”

He said he would use his “interpersonal skills” to ensure there is “open dialogue” between labor and management. “When people don’t talk, nothing gets done.” He added that he has directly managed employees and is able to “see the big picture, formulate a strategy and execute it to completion.”

Paca said for most of his professional life, “I’ve been in a fast-paced, dog-eat-dog world”—the kind of tough environment in which labor negotiations sometimes take place.

Paca served one term on the Board of Alders, representing Ward 24. He noted that he has also served on the city’s Development Commission; as a delegate to the National League of Cities; and as a delegate to the Democratic state convention. Paca most recently worked at Workplace Inc., a workforce development organization in Bridgeport, where he said he spent nearly three years.

Outside counsel will continue to negotiate labor contracts, according to Harp’s chief of staff, Tomás Reyes, who interviewed the three candidates.

Paca said he’s fine with that.

“The lawyers are the lawyers; they have their law degrees,” Paca said. “I don’t look to throw my weight around in areas that are not my expertise.” He said his areas of expertise include interpersonal communications and “making sure the interests of the city are being met.”

Paca’s daily duties will include handling employee grievances and municipal prohibited practice complaints from the city’s 13 unions, which are active in filing complaints, Reyes said.

Paca will “be also helping to set policy for what the city needs on contracts,” such as how to cut health care costs by changing health care plans.

Paca said he is committed to finding health-care savings and also ensuring that city workers have high morale.

According to the city’s job description, the labor relations director:

• “Negotiates agreements between City and recognized employee organizations. Supervises grievance, appeal and disciplinary actions and mediates grievances.
• “Meets with employee groups, organizations and individuals to discuss pay scales, fringe benefits, working conditions and grievances.
• “Investigates violations of union contracts and City policies, and effectuates appropriate remedies.
• “Supervises collection of data and information on labor relations activities in the public and private sector for use in establishing City policies.
• “Prepares annual budget and represents Department at budget hearings.
• “Provides technical assistance related to employee relations practices and problems.
• “Works in collaboration with Department of Human Resources to develop citywide employee relations programs.”

The job description lists the following requirements for the job:

“Graduation from an accredited four year college or university with major course work in political science, public administrations, industrial relations, or a related field; law degree preferable; and at least 7 to 10 years experience in labor negotiating activities; or equivalent combination of training and experience which provides the following knowledge, abilities and skills:
• “Thorough knowledge of the principles and practices of employee relations methods, techniques and procedures used in a municipal government setting.
• “Thorough knowledge of Federal, State and local labor legislation as it affects municipal government; ability to interpret relevant Charter, Ordinance, state and federal laws.
• “Thorough knowledge of the principles and practices of mediation, fact finding and arbitration.
• “Ability to analyze the issues in a dispute, and evaluate their relative importance and susceptibility to compromise.
• “Ability to develop and maintain effective working relationships with labor management and the general public.
• “Ability to express ideas effectively both orally and in writing.”

“I understand it’s going to be a lot of work,” Paca said. “It’s going to be long hours.” He said he will approach the job “with the goal of ensuring that our city and our unions have a productive dialogue.”

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posted by: Threefifths on July 1, 2014  9:13am

The lawyers are the lawyers; they have their law degrees,” Paca said. “I don’t look to throw my weight around in areas that are not my expertise.” He said his areas of expertise include interpersonal communications and “making sure the interests of the city are being met.”


I smell the old Spoils system.
In the politics of the United States, a spoils system (also known as a patronage system) is a practice where a political party, after winning an election, gives government jobs to its supporters, friends and relatives as a reward for working toward victory.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spoils_system


Keep voting them in.

posted by: robn on July 1, 2014  9:44am

““Most of our negotiations [with labor unions] are done by an outside firm,” Harp added.”


Wait, what? Why then do we have a labor relations director?

posted by: connecticutcontrarian on July 1, 2014  9:50am

If in fact most of our negotiations are done by an outside firm, why do we need to pay this guy $98,000 because he worked really really hard and knows how to work with lawyers?  Couriers, stenographerd, and bailiffs also know how to work with lawyers and have more extensive RELEVANT work experience than Paca.

What a disappointment.

posted by: Wooster Squared on July 1, 2014  9:51am

“Most of our negotiations [with labor unions] are done by an outside firm,” Harp added.

If this is the case, what then is the purpose of this position, apart from patronage?

posted by: Noteworthy on July 1, 2014  9:51am

Predictable and disgraceful. The patronage dump continues and expands. This is what leads to such cynicism by those of us who pay for this mess.

posted by: Hmmm on July 1, 2014  9:52am

Unbelievable. No truly relevant experience and, yet, he’s hired to do a very important, very well-paid job. Glad to see my exorbitant taxes are being well-spent. I guess I should’ve been a more ardent supporter of Harp. Looks like I could’ve gotten a sweet job out of it, even if I am completely unqualified.

posted by: Herewego on July 1, 2014  10:21am

Seriously?  This will be Mayor Harp’s biggest mistake.

posted by: Scot on July 1, 2014  10:27am

Congrats to Mr. Paca. Does anyone know what the benefits package is that comes with this type of city job, mainly do they provide pensions?  (I’m not making any judgement or opinion on the position, simply curious in general). If you’re going to include salary info in the article which will cause people to form opinions, might as well include this info.

posted by: Paperless on July 1, 2014  11:17am

I’m enthusiastic about flying a plane but that doesn’t qualify me to fly one !!!
Ok people where is common sense and concern about the city finances, this position require someone with experience in the field of negotiation not to give someone a teachable moment when the city is in dire straights ..it’s ok to be happy about someone as a person but more happier if he or she is quality to do the job but not as a political pawn…all I’m going to say is “watchful eyes”..

posted by: Anderson Scooper on July 1, 2014  11:22am

I’m with Scot. Might as well provide links to actual resumes as well…

posted by: robn on July 1, 2014  11:29am

To put it bluntly, the Harp administration was elected because of the substantial investment of time/$/propaganda by local and national unions. If this appointee fails, the administration has actually succeeded because it will enrich municipal employee unions.

posted by: Atticus Shrugged on July 1, 2014  11:31am

Generally, I disagree with the call but it’s the mayor’s call.  To be fair, he can always be fired if he doesn’t live up to expectations.  As can Nemerson and Johnson.  So, let’s hope that they all either do their job (no evidence of as much yet) or that she has the political will to fire them if they fail to live up to expectations within a reasonable time.

posted by: webblog on July 1, 2014  12:05pm

Get use to accepting mediocrity as the new standard. With the exception of Martha Okafor, Community Services administrator, and Mendi Blue, the overpaid grants manager ($116K no employees to supervise), all other appointees, starting with Garth Harries, are equally unqualified. The only saving grace is that there are no Yalies, yet.

I really don’t know what’s up with this Paca appointment, he brings absolutely nothing to the table, with the possible exception that he is a black male, ONE of Harp’s necessary after thoughts.

In the following three critical areas of knowledge and experience Paca fails miserably:

1 “Thorough knowledge of Federal, State and local labor legislation as it affects municipal government; ability to interpret relevant Charter, Ordinance, state and federal laws.

2 • “Thorough knowledge of the principles and practices of mediation, fact finding and arbitration.

3• “Ability to analyze the issues in a dispute, and evaluate their relative importance and susceptibility to compromise.

The city negotiates with at least 17 city unions for contracts lasting between 3 and 5 years, contracts usually have expired 2 years before a new settlement is finalized, producing pay increases on average of 3 &1/2 percent retroactive.

Paca’s task will be to stop this practice of delayed settlements costing the city millions while claiming savings to the city which are never realized.

Another practice to halt is settling union contracts high, and then taking a matching increase for city hall senior and middle managers. A built in disincentive to save taxpayers a mill rate increase.

Administrative Grade- D (dumb).

posted by: BillSaunders1 on July 1, 2014  12:12pm

Atticus,

There is no ‘political will’ in this administration, just ‘political agenda’.

posted by: Noteworthy on July 1, 2014  1:24pm

Scott - there are benefits. Lots of them. It costs about 50% of the salary. So Pack’s real cost is roughly $150 for a guy with zero relevant experience.

posted by: Hooker Mom on July 1, 2014  1:34pm

@webblog Garth Harries is a Yalie, if by that you mean someone whom attended Yale.

posted by: webblog on July 1, 2014  2:08pm

@ Hooker Mom, I am disappointed the only wording you received out of my post was that Harries is a Yalie.

The central point in my statement is that Garth Harries was equally unqualified at the time of appointment, as is Paca.

The fact that “Garth Harries YC ’95” is a Yalie and unqualified is more embarrassing.

Harp did not first appoint Harries to an initial one year appointment, DeStefano did, and Harp accepted his reappointed by the board, after much consternation.

posted by: HewNaven on July 1, 2014  2:45pm

She said Paca is “very bright” and has experience “developing jobs for people” and doing marketing. He has strong “analytical skills,” she said.

Is this a joke? We couldn’t find anyone with the REQUIRED 7-10 years of experience negotiating contracts?!

posted by: JMS on July 1, 2014  2:50pm

I told you so.

JMS

posted by: Threefifths on July 1, 2014  3:40pm

posted by: robn on July 1, 2014 11:29am

To put it bluntly, the Harp administration was elected because of the substantial investment of time/$/propaganda by local and national unions. If this appointee fails, the administration has actually succeeded because it will enrich municipal employee unions.

B.S.The Harp administration was elected because of the people who vote Party lines.

posted by: BillSaunders1 on July 1, 2014  4:00pm

Such a meteoric rise—from Alderman, to Food Cart Operator, to Labor Relations Chief??? 

Hot Dog!

posted by: BillSaunders1 on July 1, 2014  4:05pm

Or should I have said ‘Gastronomic Rise’.  I think I have indigestion…..

posted by: Frank Columbo on July 1, 2014  4:14pm

Right out of the Daniels administration playbook. Rife with unqualified appointments. I remember one in particular, the gentleman who was appointed as the City comptroller. He had a Yale degree in fine arts history, but no accounting experience whatsoever.

posted by: budman on July 1, 2014  4:30pm

Bull !
I assume that since NHI put the job description in this piece, that they too realize this person is not qualified for the position.  I would like to challenge you (NHI) to now do something about it.  Lets really do some investigative reporting and bring to light that this person is not remotely qualified.  This is insane.  NHI, you are giving this administration a free ride.

Can you also please ask Mayor Harp, who are the people that she thinks will be happy with him??????  Her people? 
Unreal!

posted by: Brian McGrath on July 1, 2014  10:18pm

You kibitzers are unmerciful, especially when you don’t use your real names. I have known all City department heads going back 40 years. I have known Marcus in both all of his professional endeavors and his private life for several years. I assure you that he measures up quite well and Toni Harp has made a respectable choice here. Mr. Paca will do the job he was hired to do.

posted by: Q-Bridge on July 1, 2014  10:19pm

“He was very enthusiastic about the job” I’m enthusiastic about the job opening at YNH for Lead Brain Surgeon. “He’s a fast learner” How does she know he’s a fast learner? Did she work with him at any of his previous jobs? Do we want someone in charge of negotiating union contracts learning how to negotiate union contracts during live negotiations? You can’t make this stuff up.

posted by: Threefifths on July 2, 2014  9:21am

posted by: Brian McGrath on July 1, 2014 10:18pm

You kibitzers are unmerciful, especially when you don’t use your real names. I have known all City department heads going back 40 years. I have known Marcus in both all of his professional endeavors and his private life for several years. I assure you that he measures up quite well and Toni Harp has made a respectable choice here. Mr. Paca will do the job he was hired to do.

How do you know a person name is not real? Second this is not about a person real names.This about the clear cut and dry patronage system being used.


My bad.I have known all City department heads going back 40 years. And how do you think they got to be department heads.Look up Tammany Hall and you will find the answer.

posted by: new haven avenger on July 6, 2014  10:26am

This is getting wackier by the day. Now the NHR reports that Paca tested for the Deputy Economic Director position and scored a….wait for it….. a 70! That’s with the extra 10 points he received for being a New Haven resident. So in essence, he actually received a score of 60!!!!!!

Mayor Harp, really? This is the best you could do?

http://www.nhregister.com/government-and-politics/20140704/new-haven-deputy-director-of-economic-development-to-be-named-monday

posted by: robn on July 6, 2014  1:31pm

NHA,

I saw that article and would love to see how this administration, with its 1960s take on everything, framed a question around that crappy FRBOC report on gentrification. The report started by admitting gentrification is hard to define, then bumbled through with its own definition and then in the final paragraph dissolved any remaining credibility by admitting it had zero data on resident churn in improved neighborhoods.

http://www.clevelandfed.org/research/trends/2013/1113/01regeco.cfm

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