Icsman: Feud divides maintenance division at city's wastewater treatment plant

SANDUSKY Call it the Wastewater War. City officials last week fired wastewater treatm
jasonsinger
May 24, 2010

SANDUSKY

Call it the Wastewater War.

City officials last week fired wastewater treatment plant inspector Dan Lauber for making a perceived threat against his supervisor, among other accusations.

But interim city manager Don Icsman said Lauber was only part of the problem at the plant, where an ongoing feud has divided the maintenance division.

"It's like the Hatfields and the McCoys over there," Icsman said, referring to the warring families in Kentucky. "They're fighting, and there's two sides, and behaving in all sorts of inappropriate ways."

Connie Nicholson, a human resources specialist at the city, said the feud has caused "tension and division" in the plant's maintenance department.

She said the city plans to offer more training to its employees about hostile work environments to try to extinguish the problem.

"In the division, it is true, they're definitely fighting," Nicholson said. "As I think we mentioned in the (termination) letter, there's been constant feuding and in that area -- I don't know if it reaches other parts of the plant -- but in that maintenance area, there's definitely tension and division."

According to his termination letter, Lauber cut out a headline from the Register that read, "Kromer found dead," and admitted he intended to give it to his supervisor, chief foreman Scott Kromer, with whom he had "known tension."

The newspaper headline referred to David L. Kromer, the suspected killer of Carla Westhofen. Kromer committed suicide in November. It wasn't immediately known if David Kromer and Scott Kromer were related.

During an investigation into Lauber's behavior, Lauber said the headline was "too good to pass up" and he "didn't think it was as severe as it has been made out to be," according to the letter.

He placed it in a desk drawer used by many of the main-tenance employees, where another employee found it.

The termination letter cited the headline, as well as the "constant feuding," as reason for Lauber's termination.

In addition to the perceived threat, the city also said Lauber didn't report an employee to his supervisors when he suspected that employee was working while intoxicated.

Two other employees, maintenance worker Andy Schoewe and union representative Jim Broshious, were disciplined for the same incident.

Schoewe, who first suspected the intoxication, didn't follow the city's drug training policy of reporting the employee and instead told Lauber.

Lauber also didn't report the employee and instead sequestered him, counseled him, and contacted Broshious.

The employee passed a Breathalyzer test early that afternoon and was not disciplined.

In response to the incident, Schoewe received a written reprimand. Broshious received an oral reprimand, a less severe discipline, according to the union's contract.

Nicholson said Broshious received a lighter discipline because "he was sort of dragged into it."

Icsman said all of the employees' actions are unacceptable.

"With all that's been going on, you'd think they'd appreciate their jobs more," Icsman said.

"Most of us here are doing more with less, and they're over there not doing the things they should be and not performing their job in a conscientious manner, acting like it's Animal House. It's frustrating."

Lauber, a member of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union, filed a grievance against the city.

The city is drafting a response, Nicholson said.

Comments

Bailey

Sounds like the legal department at city hall going against Kim and everyone else! why is Iceman so upset? The only difference is the legal dept went to college so they can make money doing what Lauber got fired for.

topotheworld

Call it Board of Developmental Disabilities. There is always a current feud with current Superintendent. Hey, I heard Stark County called. Maybe they could use your "talents."

NineMM

With all that's been going on, you'd think they would appreciate their jobs more," Iscman said.........That pretty much sums up the way I feel about this.

Mr. Lauber, in my opinion, should stay fired. Besides the harrassing and intimidating prank on his co-worker, allowing another employee to stay on the job intoxicated is unacceptable.

Municipal service employees enjoy very good benefits, as well as pay. While they are involved in these activities, we lose services that we pay for.

Mr. Laubers termination will be overturned. He will be re-instated with back pay, thanks to his union representation, even though policys were violated. Alcohol and drug abuse are not tolerated in the private sector workforce, and certainly shouldn't be accepted in the government workforce.

Fireside

The ICE MAN......cleaning up the house!

gene44870

well Sandusky , that a couple you aont have to lay off in order to balance the budget ..lmao

brownbear

Get rid of them all.UNIONS RIGHT.I,m sure there's people who would love those jobs.Now days most people take their job for granted,when their is a union.

Kilroy

Lets see what is worst, OSP putting white sheets on and playing KKK or a couple of co-workers that do not get along? Or a SPD officer getting drunk and acting the fool at the island, they all will/got their jobs back. Save our tax dollars and just reinstate him now

ottonut44

There are two sides to every story, therefore they all should be fired and replaced by people that appreciate having a job in these economic times. If the city caves into either side of this story, we have the wrong people running the place. While you're at it, get rid of the union because they don't care if the story is true, they are only there to protect their member, right or wrong. Today, the only purpose unions serve (other than extorting money from their members) is protecting the 2% of the employees who are the complainers and malcontents.

Minuteman

Treatment plant feud?

Flinging foo instead of shooting at each other.

meigster

It's time to call in Homeland Security! I understand the water plant has HUGE PROBLEMS. Ms. Farrar is the only commissioner to lead the investigation.

Erie Countian

Honestly fellows...GROW UP and quit behaving like a bunch of immature, silly little boys. Be thankful you have decent paying jobs with benefits and just DO YOUR JOBS like the adults you should be. Good grief.

RumorHasIt

Just so you understand he was NOT an employee of the Wastewater Treatment Plant Division he worked for the Wastewater Maintenace Division, both divisions are located at 304 Harrison St. The Wastewater Treatment Plant treats the sewage. The Wastewater Maintenance Division maintains sewer lines.

Raoul Duke

They can fire them and hire me. I'll behave.

Julie R.

Never a dull moment in Sandusky.......

big_d

ottonut44 wrote on Jan 15, 2010 9:43 AM:
" There are two sides to every story, therefore they all should be fired and replaced by people that appreciate having a job in these economic times. If the city caves into either side of this story, we have the wrong people running the place. While you're at it, get rid of the union because they don't care if the story is true, they are only there to protect their member, right or wrong. Today, the only purpose unions serve (other than extorting money from their members) is protecting the 2% of the employees who are the complainers and malcontents. "

As some one who has worked in union shops, and currently works in a non union shop for 20 + years, and who also has upper mgm't in immediate family, I can say that you are incorrect in your assumptions about unions. They exist because of a need. Google "union busting" or "labor relations" and you will see plenty of sites (law firms) that do nothing but try to subvert the process of either getting or maintaining one. Unions are not all that powerful these days, lets face it, manufacturing isn't what it used to be, but not solely because of unions. Do you really think that if there were no unions the jobs would still be here? I've got news for you, the minimum wage in this country is still much more than what the Chinese get paid for a day's labor, plus factoring in the lax environmental laws, and you see they were going to invest there, unions or not, because the bottom line is THE BOTTOM LINE, and "Its not how you make a profit, its how much profit you make".

Quicksand

So is the Iceman getting paid double to perform both jobs, I wonder? And WHEN are the commissioners going to investigate all of his wrong-doings? He sure seems to be covering his own butt a lot lately. Wonder why?

Back to the story at hand: I guess any kind of a practical joke is unacceptable nowadays, huh? With all the lunatics in America, I guess one can never be too cautious.

Do we have WUI (working under the influence) laws in effect yet? Soon, all Americans will have to take a p!$$ test upon entering a workplace. (I've heard that alcoholism is a mental illness and you can get disability for it! I've also heard disability usually pays pretty good! I personally know of a few who never have to work but yet have all the cash they need to keep their addiction alive.)

Uncommon Sense

Here's another city employee on a paid vacation until he is reinstated with backpay by an arbitrator. Does the city not understand that one of the core principles of having unionized workers is that they are all supposed to be treated in the same manner? In this case, you have an employee that has probably received no disciplinary action for "constant feuding" (I imagine it would have been part of the article) so the city decided it would throw in the cover-up of a suspected intoxicated worker. However, the others that were involved in the alleged cover-up were given lesser forms of discipline. Enjoy the time off and please send the taxpayers of Sandusky a Thank You card when it's all over and you receive your nice big backpayment.

Taxpayer

Here we have a bunch of union employees thinking they can do anything they want. They are even fighting each other at the treatment plant? So it is acceptable to get soaked up and report for work getting paid?? So if they make a mistake or error in judgment it is perfectly acceptable under UNION standards?? So WHO is the victim when they make a mistake? The taxpayer gets it several times over. PAY for a bunch of crybaby employees that can NOT serve the city (under UNION pay) at a simple water treatment plant, who cannot get along, threaten each other and FORCE taxpayers to PAY for any mistakes they make. How about a completely paid VACATION while being on termination status only to be returned to do the exact same thing again??? Is that how YOU would run your own business?? I guess it is the UNION way. Ha! Ha!

RumorHasIt

This so called feud is at the Wastewater Maintenance Division, NOT THE WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT, has been going on for 2 years and management just got around to doing something about it. YES it was reported to management but of course nothing got done about it. But that right its OK for management to mismanage but let a union person make a mistake and lets smear his name all over the paper.

Megalomania

Taxpayer, you forgot the word liberal in your post below. HA HA!

Captain Gutz

The supposely intoxicated employee passed a breathalyzer test.

A headline cut from a newspaper and left in a drawer is grounds for dismaissal?

The city supported a bad decision by a bad supervisor

ohmyhowtimeflies

Hmmm, a newspaper article in a drawer and counseling someone to quit drinking on the job and that accounts for dismissal? What am I missing? There must be more to this or they are just making an example out of Dan Lauber!? I can understand a reprimand but dismissal?