Machinist perps sought in domestic terrorism crime

The Monroe County (TN) home of a woman who crossed a picket line at Maremont Exhaust Products this year was vandalized Tuesday, causing damages totaling $20,000 to $30,000.

The company called it an "act of domestic terrorism." According to a Monroe County Sheriff's Department incident report, the vandalism was probably related to an eight-month strike at Maremont in Loudon County.

The vandalized home belongs to Della Thomas, who crossed the picket line and backed the dissolving of International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, Local 2545. In October, the National Labor Relations Board effectively dissolved the union after workers and strikers voted 223 to 141 to decertify the union.

The Monroe County Sheriff's Department is investigating the incident. Damages included vandalism of a big screen TV, cut up furniture, water left running on floors, bleach poured about the home and the word "b----" spray painted about the home. Also, siding was torn off the side of the house, and a swimming pool was "cut in several places" and the water drained out, according to the report.

Dale Smallen, former president of the defunct union, could not be reached for comment.

In February, 227 union members went on strike primarily over significant increases in employee costs for health insurance.

In early spring, the company permanently replaced about 150 of the striking workers.

After the strike began, there were reports of windows on vehicles being broken in drive-by shootings, a fire set at an employee's house, an electrical transformer shot by a high-powered rifle, a bomb scare at the plant, tires being slashed and rocks thrown at individuals and vehicles.

Maremont, which is owned by International Muffler Co. of Schulenburg, Texas, produces automotive exhaust components, including heavy duty mufflers and catalytic converters.

Maremont said in a statement that it is "appalled at the renewed violence leveled against a Maremont employee. Our hearts go out to this employee during this stressful time."

Maremont further stated that, "It appears that this incident was in retaliation for an employee asserting her rights under federal law to work during the strike and to assist other employees in decertifying the Machinists Union.

"This is the third attack that this employee has suffered since crossing the picket line. We hope that the perpetrators were not former Maremont employees or in any way related to the strike, but the likelihood that this act of domestic terrorism is unrelated to the strike is remote."

The company said it plans to offer "a substantial reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for this act of domestic terrorism."


Quantitative State-by-State Report Card Examines Key Worker Issues

The Alliance for Worker Freedom (AWF), special project of Americans for Tax Reform, announced the release of the first ever quantitative metric that ranks each state on their degree of worker freedom. The 2007 Index of Worker Freedom: A National Report Card is scheduled to be released tomorrow, December 6.

The press conference held at The National Press Club (13th floor), 529 14th Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20045, at 10:00am EST, and will feature; Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform; Bob Williams, President of Evergreen Freedom Foundation; David Denholm, President of the Public Service Research Foundation, and other special guests.

"We have tested the Index before in an abbreviated version through our website," says Johnson. "However, with the blatant political alignment between the Left and Big Labor unions and the most recent invasions on worker freedom, it has become apparent that certain states are placing more emphasis on respecting workers rights than those which support controlled and regulated labor markets."

By measuring 10 different variables, the 2007 Index is the first state-by-state comparative study that measures the level of worker freedom by analyzing actual policy as well as quantitative state data. "Using variables such as prevailing wage laws and right to work legislation, and analyzing quantifiable metrics like union density and entrepreneurial activity, this Index allows for any analyst on any level to get a 'snapshot' view of how a state ranks with regard to labor issues," adds Johnson.


SEIU-AFSCME disobedience irks Houston

After months of labor negotiations, the talks between the city of Houston and HOPE, the union that represents 13,000 municipal employees, are still slogging along.

To get things moving, the Houston Organization of Public Employees is stepping up the pressure. The union is running critical — and according to city officials, untrue — radio ads about staffing of key city services, it drafted Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards to berate the city in a video clip over its "second-class wages," and it's sending employees to vent their grievances regularly at City Council meetings.

But is that a wise strategy for the union that is the combination of the Service Employees International Union and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees?

City employees can't strike, according to state law, nor can they engage in organized work stoppages. Their power is largely based on their persuasive abilities. However, under the meet-and-confer law that gave the union collective bargaining rights, either side can walk away from the negotiating table.

"The union is trying to figure out how far it can go — it doesn't want to alienate the public and its members — and (Mayor Bill White) is also trying to figure out how far he can go," said Richard Hurd, a labor studies professor at Cornell University. Neither side really knows how it will turn out, he added, especially since it's the first time the city's civilian employees are negotiating a contract.

In a written message to city employees in October, White let the union know he was listening to the concerns of workers but he had little patience for civil disobedience, especially the variety favored by SEIU, which led the Justice for Janitors strike last year.

"Now, I hear that some public relations specialists are being brought in from outside the state in order to mount a campaign, to claim city employees are being treated unfairly. I hope these are not the same people from outside of Texas who came down and sat in the middle of traffic intersections and caused a public backlash against janitors," the message read.

Wages a key issue

After months of negotiations over vacation time, grievance procedures and other matters, several sticking points remain unresolved. For instance, the city wants to reserve more than half of the money for merit increases — like most private sector workers get — while the union wants a much higher proportion distributed in across-the-board raises.

Some of the problems facing the city stem from not paying its employees enough money, said Jere Talley, a member of the negotiating team for HOPE. Low wages create turnover that puts additional pressure on remaining workers, she said.

"I want to stress the point that it's truly about quality public service and what's on the table now won't remedy that," said Talley, a city employee.

The union is hoping to gain traction through radio ads that claim high school student interns are answering 911 emergency calls.

City spokesman Frank Michel said high school students are not permitted to field emergency calls and he criticized the HOPE radio ads that featured a retired supervisor claiming that he supervised the students as they answered the phones. However Michel concedes that after the supervisor retired this summer, another supervisor improperly allowed four high school students to answer emergency calls, a practice since stopped.

"The ads just aren't true and I can only guess they're desperate and they're misleading people in an effort to put public pressure on the mayor and City Council to come to some agreement," said Michel. The mayor is working on his own radio ad to answer some of the union's criticisms.

Test of brinksmanship

It's a game of brinksmanship with each side wanting to push as far as they can, said A. Kevin Troutman, an employment lawyer with Fisher & Phillips in Houston who has represented companies involved in labor disputes with SEIU.

However, there's a fine line.

"I don't think they want to get into an all-out war with the mayor," said Troutman.

The challenge of public sector unions that deliver key services is not to alienate the public, said Mark Sherman, an arbitrator and mediator and associate professor of management at the University of Houston-Clear Lake. It's an automatic public relations problem if they stop collecting the garbage or responding to citizens' problems.

Those unions can't afford to lose popular support, he said.

"If you do, you just play in the hands of the (city)," said Sherman. "Then they can drop the boom on you — and they can use public disenchantment as the reason."


Democrats criticize greedy labor unions

Kudos to Arthur Turner Jr. and Terry Speigner of the Democratic Central Committee, for daring to criticize the United Food and Commercial Workers’ Union in regard to the proposed Wegmans store in Landover (MD).

I realize most of the Democrats owe their political existence to the numerous labor unions which abound in this county and state. As taxpayers and consumers, however, we would all be much better off if only we had a lot more politicians looking our for our well being instead of [appeasing] the union thugs. For the sake of our economy, safety, educational system and just about everything else which touches our lives, I would encourage all politicians to follow the lead of Mr. Turner and Mr. Speigner, before it’s too late.

And, as far as that goes, all voters should remember there is the ‘‘other party” which would probably serve them better then the one which has been so entrenched in Prince George’s County, Montgomery County and Baltimore City for much too long. The same old, same old, same old, just isn’t cutting it. We are putting in more and more in taxes and getting less and less out of it, thanks in a large part to the greedy labor unions among us and the politicians drinking at their troughs.

- Gene M. Wentz, College Park


ILWU deflects blame for failure to renew certification

The already tumultuous relationship between the owners of Pacific Beach Hotel in Waikiki (HI) and ILWU Local 142, the union that is trying to achieve a first contract for workers at the property, completely broke down yesterday.

Yesterday, in the wake of rumblings that the union and community supporters were planning to launch a consumer boycott of the property today, owner HTH Corp. announced that it will challenge the union's right to organize at the property.

Tensions have continued to mount since HTH Corp. resumed management of the property on Saturday with about 45 less union workers in the ranks. PBH Management, an affiliate of Outrigger Enterprises Group, had formerly managed the property.

The boycott, threatened for months, stems in part from HTH Corp.'s decision to reduce the workforce at the Pacific Beach Hotel during the property's latest management transition. The union has accused HTH Corp. of firing the most active ILWU Local 142 supporters in an attempt to weaken workers' efforts to obtain a fair labor contract.

However, HTH Corp. has taken the position that the union's National Labor Relations Board certification has expired and has declined ILWU Local 142's most recent request to meet, said Robert Minicola, regional vice president of HTH.

"We have a good faith doubt that the ILWU represents the majority of workers at the Pacific Beach Hotel," Minicola said. "I informed (the union president) that the threats to our employees, our owners and the boycotting of our business have caused us not to recognize the union."

Workers at the Pacific Beach Hotel say that they have struggled to get union representation since 2002 but were impeded by by interference from HTH Corp.

"It's a blatant illegality on their part to not recognize the union," said Guy Fujimura, secretary/treasurer of the ILWU Local 142. "Clearly we will take legal action."

Both parties have filed numerous charges against each other with the National Labor Relations Board.


Broadway counts up the cost of IATSE strike

For now, everything on Broadway is coming up roses. After a paralyzing 19-day strike that shut down 26 shows, long lines at the box offices last weekend finally replaced picket lines. The Rialto is buzzing again, just in time for the holidays.

"Broadway's Back!" boomed ads for a free performance last week in the theater district by an array of stars, including Bernadette Peters, Angela Lansbury and others. The concert at the Marquis Theatre, staged by the League of American Theatres and Producers, was an attempt to erase the stigma of a battle between the league and stagehands that lasted far longer than most expected and gave the drama biz a black eye.

But underneath the bravado, beyond the happy mantras of the Great White Way -- "Curtain up, light the lights!" -- the strike has raised troubling questions for the theater world: How will producers recover from steep box-office losses estimated at $40 million? And which productions face the biggest challenges to survive?

Few can predict how the new contract between the league and Local One representing 3,000 stagehands, will affect the economics of future shows. Details of the new labor deal, which has yet to be ratified, remain unclear.

But rising costs have already taken a toll on Broadway, where top tickets regularly go for $110, and so-called premium tickets at some shows cost more than $400.

Costs going up

The price of putting on new musicals has also been rising: "Young Frankenstein," which opened last month, cost an estimated $20 million to produce.

Still, amid these pressures, Broadway has put on a happy face.

"'Rent' has been playing for 11 years -- and thank you for being our first audience after the strike!" said actor Telly Leung, as performers took their bows Thursday at the Nederlander Theatre. The audience cheered. Yet the small size of the crowd -- barely 300 people in a 1,200-seat house -- underscored the challenges facing the show, on a night when Broadway shook off the cobwebs and got back to business.

For some hit shows, such as "Wicked" and "The Lion King," the work stoppage seemed like a temporary aberration, an interruption in a steady stream of millions of dollars in advance box-office sales.

Hours after the strike was settled Nov. 28, it was difficult to find tickets to these shows, which had been sold out months in advance.

Others offered a variety of poststrike discounts intended to lure audiences back. Tickets for any remaining seats for "Chicago's" show last Thursday, for example, were sold for $26.50, a far cry from the usual $111.50 for orchestra seats.

"The Color Purple," starring "American Idol's" Fantasia Barrino, offered a buy-one, get-one-free deal through Dec. 23.

The strike had scuttled the opening nights for several highly anticipated shows, including Aaron Sorkin's "The Farnsworth Invention," Disney's "The Little Mermaid," Tracy Letts' "August: Osage County" and Conor McPherson's "The Seafarer."

Opening nights rescheduled

But all have been rescheduled. Joe Allen, Sardi's and Times Square restaurants that had been hit hard by the strike are packed once again, along with local stores.

Yet there remains a Darwinian drama playing out in the 11-block strip that is home to the $1-billion-a-year theater business.

"Rent" is a case in point.

Immediately after the strike ended, producers began offering $110 orchestra-seat tickets for $65, with seats elsewhere going for as low as $40, through Dec. 23. The special offer, not valid Saturday evenings, is an attempt by backers to lure back business -- not just after the strike but also in general.

In the month before the work stoppage, the musical was filling, on average, 53 percent of the seats at the Nederlander Theatre, according to weekly grosses released by the league. Most other shows were running at least at 70 percent capacity, and in some cases much more than that.

To be sure, "Rent" has relied heavily on walk-up business in recent years rather than advance sales. And the simple fact that it has been running so long on Broadway makes it vulnerable to competition from newer shows.

As a result, there has been speculation that "Rent" and other productions, such as "The Drowsy Chaperone," might be in jeopardy of closing soon.

Early closings?

Broadway producers pay steep rents to theater owners, and if a show fails to generate sufficient revenue, there are others waiting in the wings to take its place.

"'Rent' is a brand name by now, and after 11 years it's still doing well," said John Corker, general manager, dismissing negative speculation. "With our new discount offers, it's a way to reignite customers and get the word out -- to get people back to Broadway." Raucous applause greeted Thursday night's performance of the opera-cum-musical that seemed revolutionary when it debuted in 1996. "Rent" won a clutch of Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize and spawned a movie. The still-provocative show boasts a loyal fan base, with many priding themselves on having seen it dozens of times.

"I was devastated by the strike," said Jessica Mills, a liberal arts college student from the Bronx who has been attending the show twice a week for months. As the audience filed out, Marlon Pichardo, who has been an usher with the show for its entire 11 years, said it would take time for large crowds to return to the Nederlander. But he was confident.

"It's all over now, and things are going to be fine," he said. "Tell people we're back, OK?"


Teachers union deadset against strike-ban

A high-ranking Ohio state lawmaker announced plans Wednesday to pursue a ban on teacher strikes, arguing public educators should fall under the same prohibition applied to firefighters and police officers.

"While the circumstances may be different, the job of Ohio's teachers is just as critical as our public safety forces when we consider the tremendous impact they have on the lives of their students, the strength of families and, ultimately, the growth and prosperity of our economy and communities," said state Sen. John Carey, a Republican from Wellston in southern Ohio.

Carey's bill, slated for introduction in the next several days, would add teachers to the public safety professions banned from striking under Ohio's collective bargaining law. They would be required, like police, fire and emergency workers, to enter into binding arbitration when they have a contract dispute.

Ohio is one of 13 states where teacher strikes still legal. The state has had 23 teacher strikes since 2000, ranking it second highest in the nation behind Pennsylvania's 82, according to a report by the Allegheny Institute.

StopTeacherStrikes Inc., a nonprofit formed in 2006, is championing a similar push to ban teacher strikes in Pennsylvania, which has been named the Strike-Free Education Act. A web site promoting the bill features a cartoon video narrated in a child's voice accusing lawmakers of pandering to teachers' unions that give them large campaign contributions.

Michelle Prater, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Education Association, said the union representing 120,000 Ohio teachers opposes Carey's proposal.

"We recognize the value of binding arbitration in resolving differences and we highly value the mediation process that's in place," she said. "But under some conditions, we believe it's critical for employees to retain the right to withhold their services."

She said only six strikes have taken place over the past three fiscal years, despite the economic woes that have plagued the state.

"When you consider the lack of action on school funding combined with Ohio's rising health care costs, you can imagine the financial strain that's put on the negotiation process," she said.

Four states have seen strikes despite state bans, and the remainder have anti-strike laws that have been followed, according to the Allegheny Institute study.


Strike-happy nurses union wants more dues

Less than two months after a three-day strike, nurses employed by the Sutter Health Network voted again to strike against those Sutter-affiliated hospitals in contract negotiation, submitting legally required 10-day advance notices to 13 locations in the Bay Area, including the Novato Community Hospital. The strike will take place Dec. 13 and 14. Novato Community hospital is currently negotiating a replacement worker contract.

The California Nurses Association, best known for its successful lobbying for increased nurse-to-patient ratios in California, said in its press release that the strike was the result of Sutter being unwilling to compromise on union demands for improved staffing standards and enhanced health and retirement benefits. A complicating factor in the negotiations is Sutter’s claim that its hospitals cannot be forced to accept a blanket labor policy, while the union maintains that affiliates are part of a “hospital chain,” which is refusing to deal with the union up front.

“While some progress occurred (since the October strike) on local issues at selected sites, a wide gap remains on the central areas in dispute that affect all 13 hospitals – safe staffing at all times, improved retirement security, and secure health benefits for (registered nurses),” said the union’s press release.

Mary Strebig, communications and marketing director for the Novato Community Hospital, said that improvements to its existing staffing and benefits policies had been proposed, and that the hospital believed the union was striking despite this because it had another motive.

“We’re very disappointed they’ve decided to use this tactic. We don’t feel that they have seriously bargained with us throughout this process,” she said. “We’ve made our wage proposal and have had no feedback, we have our benefits (proposal). We at Novato have made a significant proposal guaranteeing adequate meal and break relief … and they’ve not (made a counter proposal).”

Strebig said the union wanted solutions that would increase its membership. “I do believe there are a number of proposals they’re making that would increase staffing, so that would result in more union members for them,” she said.

The nurse’s union has maintained that a general strike is necessary to gain concessions from the entire Sutter system. The union press release also said that many Sutter affiliates’ proposals had not satisfied their concerns for patient safety and adequate retirement.

“We flat out reject Sutter’s inadequate contract offers,” said Sherry Ramsey, a registered nurse at Sutter’s Solano hospital. “The facility has been vindictive to our nurses, and is now insulting us with a contract offer that does not meet our needs.”

The press release did not cite contract grievances or allegations against Novato Community Hospital. However, during the last strike, union representatives alleged management had attempted to intimidate nurses.

The press release criticized Sutter’s policies as a danger to patients, and said the union’s nurses were resolute, and would continue to pressure Sutter until their demands were met.

“Sutter nurses are united across the region because these issues are too important to let go,” said Bob Auen, an Eden Hospital nurse. “Sutter is trying to dump patients it doesn’t like, and cut corners. They’re going after our healthcare, our pension. We are 5,000 nurses, a strong coalition, and will stay united.”

Strebig, however, said that the nurses were not as united as the union claimed, and that Novato Community Hospital’s contract was generous when compared to similar contracts, such as that of the Kaiser hospital system.

“They consistently say this impacts 5,000 nurses, and at every affiliate (during the October strike) we had nurses that crossed the picket line,” she said.

Strebig said that the hospital’s retirement plan allowed nurses to receive benefits up to $1,100 a month, and that after retirement, nurses could use the hospital health insurance plan, purchase Medicare supplements, or buy their own insurance anywhere in the country.

“They have great flexibility,” she said. “CNA acknowledges we have a good plan.”

Strebig also said the hospital offered to pay nurses’ family health insurance plans if they attended an annual health course, and that the plan cost $50 if they chose not to.


Another campaign to preserve dues collection

Veteran initiative activist Bill Sizemore set up a grudge match Wednesday with organized labor by filing what he said are nearly 139,000 signatures for a measure that seeks to dry up union political contributions.

Sizemore appears to have enough signatures - he needs 82,769 valid ones - to put yet another "paycheck protection" measure before Oregon voters next November. Voters narrowly rejected similar Sizemore initiatives in 1998 and 2000 after unions spent millions of dollars fighting them.

It was a busy day for Sizemore on the initiative front. He was one of seven initiative sponsors who were each fined $250 for hiring a company that violated the state's ban on paying petitioners by the signature instead of by the hour.

In addition, Sizemore also appeared to turn in enough signatures to qualify an initiative that would allow homeowners to do as much as $35,000 in residential construction work without getting a building permit. That measure could draw opposition from the housing and insurance industries, according to Bill Cross, executive director of the Oregon Building Officials Association.

Sizemore has long tangled with Oregon's public employee unions, which are key supporters of the state's Democratic political establishment. Unions have opposed repeated Sizemore efforts to cut taxes, and they won a $2.5 million judgment against him after filing a lawsuit charging him with fraudulent financing of his political operation.

Despite the judgment against him, Sizemore is back this year with what could be six measures on the November ballot. He earlier turned in signatures for measures dealing with income taxes, merit pay for teachers and the instruction of non-English-speaking students. He said he continues to gather signatures for a measure that would make it harder for the Legislature to prevent any of its laws from being referred to the ballot.

Sizemore's latest union measure would put new restrictions on the use of public money for political purposes. The intent is to prevent unions from using paycheck deductions to gather political contributions.

Sizemore argues that unions would not be able to raise nearly as much political money if their members couldn't contribute through paycheck deductions.

Duke Shepard, political director of the Oregon AFL-CIO, said Sizemore "doesn't like unions. . . . He doesn't like unions participating in politics, and if he can't beat them, he wants to eliminate them."

The secretary of state also fined two owners of a petitioning firm, Parker Bell and Brian Platt, $10,900 each for paying employees on a per-signature basis, according to The Associated Press. Sizemore said he had long ago fired Parker and Bell from his initiative drives.

Sizemore said he filed the building permit measure because he thought homeowners should have the right to work on their houses without "getting the permission of government." He noted that inspections would still be required for electrical work and permits would be required to build an additional story.

Mark Long, administrator of the state Building Codes Division, said state law requires permits for projects that have safety implications.


Michigan gov't unions in bargaining rebellion

An impasse panel will try to settle differences over new labor contracts for state workers. Three of the five unions representing state workers have voted to reject tentative contracts reached with the state.

The workers would get no pay raise in the fiscal year that starts next Oct. 1, a 1 percent raise in fiscal 2009 and a 3 percent raise in fiscal 2010. They also would see increased premiums and copays for health insurance.

The unions and state have until Wednesday to say where they agree and differ. They have until Friday to submit summaries laying out their arguments.

The three-member impasse panel, which is made up of members of the state's Employment Relations Board, will meet Dec. 14 to make recommendations to the Civil Service Commission.

The Michigan Corrections Organization and AFSCME Council 25 turned down their contracts Monday. The Michigan State Employees Association rejected a contract last month. UAW Local 6000, the largest union representing 17,000 employees, and SEIU Local 517M have ratified their contracts.


Strike possible at airport

Representatives of the employees who operate the restaurants and bars at Sacramento International Airport are asking Sacramento (CA) County Supervisors on Wednesday to put pressure on HMS Host Corp. to negotiate with the union.

The county owns and operates the airport, and HMS Host operates the food and beverage concessions at the airport. The 180 union employees are working under their last contract, which expired in June 2006. That contract had been negotiated three years earlier, when the travel meltdown in the wake of the 9-11 terrorist attacks was slamming the travel business.

"No one knew where the industry was going back then" said Karl Neubuerger, executive vice president with Unite Here Local 49, which represents the restaurant employees. Public documents show Host has been doing very well at the airport recently, and it is "dragging its feet" in coming to agreement with the union, Neubuerger said. "We want the supervisors to pressure the airport for a contract."

The union doesn't want to picket the airport during the busy holiday season, he said, but it is prepared to do that -- and perhaps more.

He said Local 49 has been granted strike authority from the Sacramento Central Labor Council.

"If we don't get somewhere, we will have to get much more public in our dispute," he said.


AFSCME cleans house in New Mexico

Members of Santa Fe's largest city-employee union voted Tuesday to replace president Len Montoya with challenger Daniel Trujillo.

The regularly scheduled leadership election for American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3999 followed a ruling last week from the international union headquarters removing Montoya from office and barring him from running again for two years.

Local election officials announced Tuesday night that Trujillo had beaten Montoya by a vote of 220 to 179. Trujillo, who works at the Genoveva Chavez Community Center as a groundskeeper, said he wants to spend his two-year term working to "give the union back to the membership" and repair alliances that have been damaged.

Under Montoya's leadership, the union clashed with Mayor Coss this year over his immigration-rights activism and other issues. Montoya urged a vote of no-confidence against Coss and alleged that management was not acting in good faith with regard to union workers. He recently picketed City Hall with other union members to protest what he said was a failure by City Manager Galen Buller to make decisions that complied with the union contract.

Montoya also fought with former local president Robert Chavez, a city employee who also serves as president of the state's AFSCME Council 18. When Montoya and a board of local union election officials barred Chavez from running for office this year, Chavez filed formal charges against him with the union's national headquarters in Washington.

The AFSCME Judicial Panel published its ruling on the charges Nov. 28, writing that Montoya had ignored an earlier ruling stating Chavez was eligible to run for office and describing Montoya's behavior as "totally unacceptable." The ruling found Montoya guilty of violating the union constitution and removed him from office in addition to barring him from holding any union elected position for two years.

Montoya could not be reached for comment either last week or this week. Union executive board member Lawrence Vigil was found guilty of the same charges, according to the panel report. Vigil said Tuesday that the verdict did not mean he and Montoya were removed from office before the election.

"We have not gotten our appeal process, and we have not gotten our due process," he said. "Whoever is calling you, if it's Daniel and those guys, tell them to get a life."

A media representative with the international office said he needed more time to answer questions about the significance of the panel decision and the appeal process.

Incoming president Trujillo said he is not focused on recent history or on the conflict involving Montoya, Chavez, Vigil and others. "I wanted to beat him outright," he said of his opponent. "All that other stuff doesn't matter."

Transit mechanic Michael Romero said the election results show a union ready for new life. "Everyone is ready for some change. There has been a lot of corruption going on," he said.

The tight vote was a bad sign to Loren Vigil, who has worked at the wastewater treatment plant for 12 years. "I think our union is going to go down the tubes," he said after waiting nearly four hours for the vote tally along with about 20 others. "I think Daniel (Trujillo) is going to be Robert's (Chavez's) puppet, and he's going to be the mayor's puppet."

Chavez, reached by telephone at an out-of-state conference, said both the report from the international and the results of the local election were good news. He said he expects Trujillo and other new officers to restore the union's relationship with city management, "because right now, that is shot."

Coss, who enjoys the support of other labor unions and was a union leader in previous jobs, seemed surprised by the news of the ruling against Montoya. "I can't comment on that recent development," he said. "It's an international union issue, and management doesn't have anything to do with it."

The mayor said he liked union election day because "union democracy is a wonderful thing."

In addition to Trujillo, the union elected Nick Lovato as vice-president and chose a treasurer, three trustees and three board representatives. The union represents more than 600 city employees, about 400 of whom are eligible to vote in elections. The current contract gave the workers a 4 percent pay increases over last year.


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