Labor Board Sides With Incumbent Unions, Election Ordered For One
(Updated 7:50 p.m.) One rival union’s attempt to woo members away from their current unions was dismissed by the Connecticut Labor Board of Relations, but another rival union will have an opportunity to compete for the support of 500 captains and lieutenants in the Correction Department.
The decision released Tuesday found that the petitions submitted by the United Public Service Employees Union on behalf of five bargaining groups was not filed in a timely manner.
As a result of the decision, AFSCME Local 749, the probation unit represented by AFT, the judicial marshal unit represented by IBPO, and the State Engineering, Scientific and Technical Unit, also known as P-4, represented by CSEA SEIU Local 2001, will not be given an opportunity to choose which union represents them.
But the Correctional Supervisors represented by CSEA SEIU Local 2001 will have an opportunity to decide whether to stay with its current leadership or switch to the National Correction Employees Union. Earlier this year, the board dismissed NCEU’s petition to organize AFSCME’s Correction guards.
The Labor Board of Relations sided Tuesday with the state and the incumbent unions who maintained that state employees essentially closed the window to switch unions when they voted to approve the State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition agreement and the bargaining unit agreements in August 2011.
Ben Philips, a spokesman for CSEA SEIU Local 2001, said the decision to allow the Correction Supervisors to vote doesn’t come as a huge surprise since it voted down the SEBAC agreement and was working without an individual contract.
The Correction Supervisors were one of two bargaining units to vote down the 2011 concession package.
The Labor Relations Board ordered an election by secret ballot for the Correction Supervisors in the next 30 days.
“We are looking forward to that election,” Philips said.
An attorney and leadership at the National Correction Employees Union could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon. Representatives of UPSEU also couldn’t be reached for comment.
But John Vitale, a former member of the State Engineering, Scientific and Technical Unit, also known as P-4, said he was told by UPSEU leadership the decision will be appealed to court.
He said this was about giving members a right to vote.
“Why does anybody fear an election, if you’ve been doing a good job for your members,” Vitale said Tuesday in a phone interview.
While he’s disappointed in the decision he said he knew which ever way it went, it would wind up in court.
Attorney Robert Krzys, who was speaking on behalf of the other six bargaining groups, said they were happy with the board’s decision.
“We’re gratified that the State Board recognized the validity and importance of the SEBAC 2011 Agreement to the people of this state, and to its public service employees,” he said. “We are going to continue working together in the interest of our members and the public that they serve.”
The battle for control of the seven unions has been raging since the first failed vote on the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition $1.6 billion concession package.
Countless hearings were held on the merits of the petitions submitted by the two rival unions. The petitions had to be signed by at least 30 percent of the bargaining unit before the Labor Board of Relations could validate an election.
Toward the end of the hearings, which concluded earlier this year, the discussion centered on the controversial “Attachment H” and whether it was drafted before or after the General Assembly voted to ratify the agreement.
Robert Dellapina, an alternative board member who wrote the dissent, said he didn’t believe that “Attachment H” which set the contract bar for the unions to submit the petitions, should be considered enforceable since the legislature was not made aware of it.
He said he agrees that “Attachment H” purports to close the window these outside unions have to file petitions for an election to August 2016, but doesn’t believe it should apply in this case. He believes all seven bargaining units should be allowed to hold an election.
Patricia Low and Wendella Ault Battey authored the majority decision, and decided that since the legislature approved “Attachment H” when it voted to ratify the SEBAC agreement, the Labor Relations Board has no power to overturn the legislature.
“We find that Attachment H existed as part of those tentative agreements when they were submitted to the legislature for approval,” Low wrote in the majority decision.