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Rival Union Loses Last Appeal

by Hugh McQuaid | Nov 21, 2012 4:00pm
(5) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Labor, Legal

Christine Stuart File Photo

For over a year, a rival union has argued that the presence of the controversial “Attachment H” within the 2011 state worker concession package should not prevent state employees from decertifying their current union and electing a new one. On Halloween, a Superior Court judge put that argument to rest.

“The court is not persuaded,” Judge Robert F. Vacchelli wrote of the United Public Service Employees Union’s last ditch effort to pry open the 2011 bargaining agreement and hold a union election.

The judge’s ruling comes as the end of the line to more than a year of drawn out litigation.

UPSEU tried to convince four different state bargaining groups to leave their current union and join its union. Even though enough employees signed petition cards calling for an election to be held, a Labor Board ruled in July that the window to have an election had closed.

The case had its roots in state employee discontent over the process that lead to the ratification of the 2011 State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition. Workers shot down the $1.6 billion concession package in their first vote, leading Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to move forward with massive layoff plans.

Union leadership responded by hastily arranging a second vote, some say violating their own bylaws in the process. Though state workers overwhelmingly approved the deal in a second vote, the way in which that came about left some workers with a sour taste in their mouth.

So when United Public Service Employees Union began circulating literature encouraging a handful of bargaining units to decertify their representation, many signed on. That’s when “Attachment H” came into play. The clause, which wasn’t physically in the SEBAC deal when workers voted on it, was used to block the union election because it closed the window for decertification.

SEBAC called the attachment boilerplate legal language, which did nothing to alter the agreement. Lawyers for UPSEU called it a “smokescreen” and filed a complaint with the state Labor Relations Board.

After months of legal briefs and sometimes contentious hearings, the board in a 2-1 decision sided with the state and the incumbent unions. They had argued that when state employees approved the SEBAC deal, and by extension Attachment H, they entered into a new contract, closing the window during which they could have decertified their representation.

UPSEU appealed to the courts, arguing that the labor board’s decision conflicted with state law and that the board had overstepped its authority.

In his appeal, UPSEU lawyer John M. Walsh laid out a complicated legal argument alleging that because certain applicable statutes and regulations weren’t included in the SEBAC deal’s appendix when it was presented to the legislature, “Attachment H” could not legally supercede them.

“The failure to list the conflicting statute and regulation on the Appendix is fatal to Attachment H’s supersedence; and, most importantly [state law] prohibits the Board from giving the language of Attachment H preferential treatment,” Walsh wrote.

Statute, therefore prohibits the labor board from enforcing that language, he concluded.

Judge Vacchelli disagreed, saying the attachment did not conflict with the statute or regulation.

“The facts changed when the Revised SEBAC Agreement was approved. Attachment H merely referenced the new reality. The facts changed, not the law,” Vacchelli wrote.

Therefore UPSEU’s petition for an election was too late under the contract bar rule, not because the law was changed or broken, but because the situation had changed: state employees had a new contract.

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(5) Comments

posted by: rankandfile | November 22, 2012  5:51pm

Just further evidence for why Connecticut needs right-to-work legislation. When the state and the current lackey unions band together to rob union members of their right to vote for which union represents them, something needs to be done.

posted by: Upset.Citizen | November 23, 2012  6:18am

Upset.Citizen

To ‘clarify’ the state employees contacted UPSEU, they did not try to convince us, our minds were already made up!

What’s said is our current unions have a window of time to fix this, but instead they treat us, thier customer, worse then ever!

We learned from our mistatakes!  We will vote no to SEBAC 2015 (or sooner) and change unions!

posted by: gompers | November 26, 2012  5:21pm

Dear UPSEU fake union shills:
Unions don’t have customers.  They have members.  The Connecticut state employee unions protected their members’ pay, pension and health care better than almost any unions in the country.  That is why the One Percenters attack public employee unions so much - they have forced the wage up for the private sector workforce (the same way that the UAW did through the 50s, 60s,and 70s) and thank God that they have.  The public employee unions are the last bulwark of the middle class.

posted by: perturbed | November 28, 2012  12:15am

perturbed

@gompers—you wrote:

“The Connecticut state employee unions protected their members’ pay, pension and health care better than almost any unions in the country.”

gompers, what alternate universe do you inhabit?

[Okay, I’ll try hard to temper my comments here—let me start again…]

By what measure could you possibly have come to that conclusion? I know of no worse deal struck in any state of the nation between state employees and their respective state governments. Here’s the measure I use: Nowhere else in the nation did state employee union bosses propose—and then ram down the throats of their members—a deal that retroactively wiped out benefits earned by their members over the preceding 27 years.

Yet that’s exactly what our trusty SEBAC union bosses did to most of us (except Tier I and hazardous duty personnel). On the day SEBAC 2011 became law, I lost 20% of the pension that was promised 25 years earlier. There was no line drawn that preserved the pension I had earned up to that point, so that any reductions would only be applied going forward. No, the benefit formula was revised—and it will be applied to every year I had worked up to that point.

Nowhere else did that happen. Our trusty union bosses alone have that dubious distinction.

Even the “health care trust fund” that is taking 3% off the top of our earnings is being spent to balance the budget—all with SEBAC’s and our trusty union boss’ approval. The one thing that could actually benefit state employees in the long run is being ignored by same the Malloy/SEBAC team that slashed our pensions. What was sold to us by our unions as an investment in our own health care is really just a 3% wage reduction—on top of the hard wage freeze.

There was no greater betrayal of state employees anywhere else in the country. They don’t deserve to represent us any longer.

—perturbed

posted by: victory1 | November 30, 2012  10:10am

To all the union believing fools out there like Sammy,
There are basically two kinds of union supporters left now:  those that believe all the socialistic 1% nonsense that feel like failures but don’t want to admit it’s their own fault and want to blame everybody but themselves, or those union “elected officials” that hide behind union business leave to sit around thinking up ways to fatten up their own state job pay rates at the expense of the other members. This is all happening while the rest of the members are hard at work.  While at the same time, at the csea/seiu union hall, many of our union brothers and sisters are doing nothing else but avoiding doing the job they get paid for by the unwitting tax payers of the State of Connecticut.  The fact is the Labor board of fools (just two of them) and a clueless judge has just delayed the inevitable. Just look at Wisconsin; not exactly a conservative bastion, they voted Walker back in and 17 thousand teachers left the wonderful union when given the chance.  All you have to do is look at the numbers.  Private sector union membership is nonexistent and the public sector unions are all following. It is only a matter of time now before the dodo bird known as csea/seiu local 2001 and the rest of the parasitical unions become extinct.  Let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want to be a manager?  Last time I looked, they have the best deal, are paid the most and have no union representation.