11/4/07

SEIU strikers bite the hand that needs them

You don't think Tuesday's election influenced the Beaver County (PA) Courthouse employees' decision to stage a one-day strike Friday do you? If not then we've got some swamp land in Florida to sell you. Cheap.

After three years of occasionally threatening to do, well, something, Service Employees International Union Local 668 finally got the gumption to twist a few arms, namely those of Commissioners Chairman Joe Spanik and Commissioner Charlie Camp, who are up for re-election in two days.

Camp didn't seem too worried at all when we talked to him Friday, even though he said the strike was "all about" getting him and Spanik "to feel the heat and be worried about the election results."

Maybe Charlie wasn't worried because he gets more "attaboys" about standing up to the union than complaints about not caving in. It's just a thought.

Spanik, on the other hand, looked exhausted and totally deflated Friday afternoon. The former labor official had spent days negotiating, trying to avoid an artificial deadline that only existed because of the election. Then, he had to sit and watch his union brethren turn on him.

Things really got bizarre when their union rep said the county was reviewing a proposal and they could return to work. Pandemonium erupted as employees started screaming at him and Spanik, mostly Spanik. Funny thing was, the union had asked whether their members could return to work for the rest of the day, and Spanik said yes.

It seems the workers preferred to lose an entire day's pay striking rather than return to their jobs-for-life and get a half-day's pay. No joke.

Inside the courthouse, which remained open all day, the offices we visited seemed to be handling their few visitors pretty well. Surprisingly well, actually.

We talked to one Important County Official at the end of the day who put into words what some people had to be thinking: Maybe the only thing the striking workers proved Friday is that the county can afford to cut about 200 jobs.

(timesonline.com)

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