The past year has been a tumultuous one inside the Department of Public Works headquarters on the south end of Brookfield.
Union employees clearly were unhappy with the way the department was being managed, and the sheer number of official grievances points to the low morale among some there.
It was also clear that village management wasn’t thrilled with the way some employees were taking to new ideas for delivering services. Old habits die hard, and some of the newer ideas faced pushback from employees, to management’s exasperation.
Four months ago, the situation became untenable. Following a village election in which the public works employees’ union for the first time in more than a decade became an active opponent of the village’s power structure, the department’s director was out.
As of mid-September, there will be a new person in the director’s chair, and we hope that whatever personality conflicts were at the root of the former troubles, both management and employees will approach the future with open minds.
The new director, Amy Wagner, has said she will personally talk to employees, hear their concerns and seek their solutions to problems. That kind of communication is critical and, we hope, ongoing.
At the same time, employees have to realize that the way they operate may change and that change isn’t being done simply to make their lives more difficult, but to deliver important and expensive public works services to the residents of Brookfield who, after all, are the ones paying the bills.
Now that a new director is in place, we’re also hopeful that village management and the Teamsters can negotiate a new contract that’s fair to taxpayers and employees.
We’re looking forward to a new spirit of cooperation.