Zoo Plan Passed

February 2, 2007
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GRAND RAPIDS — County commissioners approved the John Ball Zoo reorganization plan recently, despite an objection from the union that represents the employees affected by the restructuring.

The plan reclassifies eight positions at the zoo, eliminates five and adds four. The change is expected to shave nearly $108,000 from the zoo's 2007 budget.

But Virginia Smith, president of UAW Local 2600, told commissioners that county administrators didn't keep the union in the loop regarding some of the changes.

"If you had told us, I wouldn't be standing before you," she said.

Smith asked the board to delay its vote until the union could talk with the county. But Kent County Human Resources Director Don Clack said he complied with the layoff and recall provisions in the labor contract.

"The final impact of this won't be known until the positions are approved," said Clack.

Zoo Director Bert Vescolani said he spoke with employees about the changes more than a year ago and he added that the need to cut the budget was what fueled the changes.    

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