6/19/08

Teamsters: County guilty of typical union tactics

Union organizers identified in Florida

A Teamsters' representative has fired off a letter to the county administrator asking him to respect the rights of 12 employees who are actively engaging in union-organizing activity. John Sholtes, business agent for Teamsters Local Union 79, said it is not uncommon for employers to "blatantly violate" Florida Statutes section 447 which protects these public employees.

"These reckless employers resort to dirty tricks and illegal union-busting tactics such as intimidation, threatening, interrogation and overall impartial treatment to prevent unionization," Sholtes wrote in a June 16 letter to County Administrator David Hamilton.

"Then, to add injury to insult, they make comments about how they were not even aware that their employees were involved in union activity."

To avoid that, Sholtes sent pictures of the 12 employees so the county administrator is aware of who is involved.

Sholtes has asked Hamilton to let county employees make up their own minds about unionizing.

"I think it would be a great gesture to boost the moral of the workers in these fiscally challenging times," Sholtes said.

The employees involved in union organizing are Ron Aliff, Kathy Connell, Mike Rollins, Donald Finn, Penny Oliver, Richard Longboat, John Burnett, Debbie Johnston, Henry Browning, Dan Oliver, Rachelle Jones and Jerome Golden.

It would require 50 percent plus one of the county's approximately 800 eligible employees to vote in favor of representation. Should they opt to unionize, the state would certify the election and the Teamsters would become the employees' bargaining agent.

Then, the union would begin contract negotiations with the county.

Hamilton said he is preparing a response - via the county attorney's office - to Sholtes' letter which should be available by next Tuesday's commission meeting.

Hamilton said he has no objection to the 12 employees involved in organizing activities and will not intervene.

"At the end of the day, it will be about the choice of our workers," he said.

Hamilton added that he is planning a series of staff meetings in July that will address employee salaries and other budget items.

County employees announced six months ago they were considering unionizing with the Teamsters, instead of joining the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), which already represents the county sheriff's office.

This is the third time county employees have tried to organize. They voted down earlier alliances with the Teamsters and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).

Meanwhile, county employees are invited to meet their organizing committee and talk to Teamsters representatives at a meeting scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday, June 28, at the Hernando County Fairgrounds, 6436 Broad St.

The meeting is limited to Hernando County bargaining unit employees and any upper management officials seen at the event will be reported to the Public Employees Relations Commission, according to a Teamsters flyer.

(hernandotoday.com)

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