Other Voices: Local 39 election is a matter of due process
Due to the second grand jury complaint regarding the county union employee membership vote issue, I felt it necessary to provide background information that might be helpful.
Many county employees were not notified of the union election last August, which mandated Local Union 39 dues regardless if one is a member or not. We realize the grand jury heard all of the complaints and the previously released investigation supported our many employee complaints regarding the lack of adequate notice.
So a group of us, headed up by myself and two other employees, established an e-mail address to facilitate communications (NoUnion39@dishmail.net) with employees who register their personal e-mail address. We have sent out regular updates based on information we have received from the Public Employees Relations Board, State Mediation Services, the county CEO and county counsel, in addition to private law firms that specialize in labor law.
I was able to determine tht county management acted in our best interest by taking the option of requiring that Union 39 hold a vote. They could have allowed the issue to fall under contract negotiations, which would have denied us the opportunity to even have a vote take place. We learned that the bottom line is, the county has no authority in this matter at this point. Once the election was held, we are very limited in our options.
Prior to the election, they could have negotiated with Local Union 39 on the terms of the election, but for the most part, the county relied on State Mediation Services to conduct the election, because that is what they do. They are supposed to be the experts.
Unfortunately, labor law has not caught up with modern technologies. While a bulletin board in a break room has served to provide notice for many years in such matters, they obviously are no longer effective.
We had two choices. File a lawsuit in Superior Court, or follow established law with PERB and call for a new election after 365 days from the previous election. A lawsuit is not an option, in light of the resources available to the AFO-CIO vs. a small group of county employees. They would most likely file an appeal and the matter would be tied up in court for years.
So we are moving forward under the provisions of current labor laws under the authority of PERB, and their office mandates a letter be mailed to every employee giving notice of any election, assuring adequate notice. We will soon be circulating a petition to call for another vote, if we get enough signatures.
This issue is not pro-union or anti-union for our group. The issue is due process, which we feel was denied. We will follow the law and have another vote in August and hopefully put the matter to rest.
Mike Sherman is a county employee
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