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Bargaining Units Petition To Leave Their Union—And Join Another

by Christine Stuart | Sep 1, 2011 12:19pm
(20) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Labor

The United Public Service Employees Union filed petitions Wednesday to secure the membership of five different state employee unions.

The units include two judicial units represented by 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. The petition for P-4 was actually filed last week.

Its affiliate union, the National Correction Employees Union also filed two petitions on behalf of the Correction officers and the Correctional supervisors. The Correctional Supervisors represented by CSEA SEIU Local 2001 was one of two bargaining units to vote down the concession package and have 21 members laid off as a result.

The seven petitions still need to be verified by the Board of Labor Relations, and if 30 percent of the membership in each of the units can be certified then an election can be held. The election will ask union members whether they want to leave their current union to join UPSEU.

UPSEU officials said they were contacted by state employees this summer when the employees became frustrated with the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition, which is a coalition of 15 unions that negotiates health and pension benefits for all 45,000 state employees.

“The employees are simply disgusted by the lack of representation they have received from these unions,“ UPSEU President Kevin E. Boyle, Jr. said in a press release. “What unfolded during the recent ratification process, and the fiasco related to the lack of information and changing the ratification process midstream, put employees over the top.”

After a minority of the SEBAC membership defeated the first concession package, leadership revised their bylaws to make a second vote on a clarified agreement easier to pass. In the meantime, thousands of layoff notices were issued and some employees actually lost their jobs. Passage of the second agreement allowed those separated from their employment to com back to work if their unit voted in favor of the two-year wage freeze.

Thousands of union members were upset with SEBAC for changing its bylaws to make it easier for a second vote to occur. There were also several more complaints about the changes to the health care and benefit package which increased the retirement age by three years and made those benefits less generous for workers not able to retire before Oct. 1 of this year. Members complained union leaders failed to listen to them.

State Prosecutor Lisa Herskowitz who filed a complaint with the Board of Labor Relations became the spokeswoman for the thousands of SEBAC employees upset with the coalition’s decisions. Her complaint, which is still pending with the Board of Labor Relations, alleged the coalition overstepped its bounds by negotiating wages and failed to listen to its members.

“For too long state workers in Connecticut have lacked the opportunity to determine their choice of representation,“ Boyle said. “They will now get the opportunity to decide for themselves which union can best serve their interests and the interests of their families. We eagerly await the opportunity to serve them.”

Boyle did admit that with ratification of the recent agreement UPSEU will be forced to adopt those agreements, but believes the unions will be better off with it at the helm.

Lori Pelletier, secretary treasurer of the AFL-CIO, said Wednesday that there’s always going to be a certain percentage of employees upset over a contract. She said 99.9 percent of the people may be thrilled, but that 0.1 percent may still be enough for UPSEU to glom onto.

She said in her 25 years with the union she’s never seen a unanimous vote on a contract, and she believes UPSEU is trying to exploit what was an admittedly tenuous situation.

“With 80 percent of the workforce not unionized, if they really want to improve the labor movement they should go after employee groups that have no representation,” Pelletier said.

She called UPSEU a “raider union” and said its more of a marketing operation than a union with the best interests of the workers in mind.

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(20) Comments

posted by: Sadie | September 1, 2011  1:31pm

Loris Pelletier:
Are you kidding?  No matter how one voted, 100%, felt the by-laws should not have been changed the way they did.  As far as UPSEU, they are just a stepping stone, figure it out.

posted by: notasheep | September 1, 2011  1:48pm

There is an error in this piece.  UPSEU did not initiate contact, state employees did as a result of SEBAC’s treatment of its union members.  They did not honor the first vote, changed the rules to suit their purposes and allowed members to be pressured and threatened in order to have their agreement passed.

posted by: Upset.Citizen | September 1, 2011  2:42pm

Upset.Citizen

Any chance Lori Pelletier could provide facts to back her opinions?  LOL!  Like all the current union mouth pieces, her hollow statements stink of desperation…  We call it cool-aid breath!

Keep preaching the party line as the members run for the door… Drink some more cool-aid so reality won’t set in…

We learned our lesson the hard way! We actually put a great deal of effort into finding a union with a good reputation! The employees contacted UPSEU, not the other way around… 

Current union leaders get the message - You did not do your job! YOU ARE FIRED!

Go to the P-4 UPSEU site for correct and current info!

http://sites.google.com/site/p4upseu/

There are many updates coming soon! Check back often!

posted by: Not that Michael Brown | September 1, 2011  2:51pm

Headline should have read:
“Bargaining Units Petition To Leave Their Union - and Join Another”

The rank and file is not going rogue.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS105 | September 1, 2011  4:05pm

To the National Correction Employees Union and Judicial Marshal unit.You need to sign up for unions like this.

For the correction union.

http://www.cobanyc.org/content3.aspx?id=2

Judicial Marshal Unit.

http://www.nysscoa.org/

If not you will be back in the same boat.

posted by: Michaelreed | September 1, 2011  6:00pm

I want to stop paying dues to AFSCME and UPSEU is the answer right now.  AFSCME did nothing for their members and all they cared about was keeping our dues!

posted by: NOW What? | September 1, 2011  7:30pm

UPSEU and NCEU most certainly would *NOT* be an improvement over AFSCME, AFT, or CSEA THAT’S for sure! If these bargaining units really want to change unions, they should at LEAST go for the very best - even if it means soliciting the help of New York - based unions in developing new Connecticut chapters (which is EXACTLY how 1199 came into Connecticut).

posted by: NOW What? | September 1, 2011  7:45pm

Sadie - No way did 100% of us think the by-laws shouldn’t have been changed… in fact, the majority of us didn’t really care about that particular issue at all. And ABSOLUTELY no way is this any “stepping stone” - EVERYONE’S got the current pension and health insurance contract until 2022, and ALL unions are and will continue to be subject to the exact same collective bargaining laws in Connecticut (including those related to unit contract arbitration). If you think otherwise you’re just deluding yourself, regardless of what Herskowitz does or doesn’t do.

posted by: soldoutbytheunion | September 2, 2011  5:32am

This is union memners exercising their democratic rights…we reached out the these unions, they didn’t “raid” us.  That’s just more political spin from the current union “leaders” like Pelletier.  I will do eveything in my power to ensure that no more of my money goes into the pockets of the union that deprived the people they were supposed to represent of true representation.  This is a classic grass roots campaign and it is being largely ignored by the local media (who’ve been asleep at the wheel for this whole process…and when awake have basically been an ad campaign for Malloy and SEBAC).  The graft, corruption and malfeasance is not being ignored by those of us who care, we’re not giving up until the likes of Luciano, O’Connor and Livingston are sent packing!

posted by: perturbed | September 2, 2011  9:18am

perturbed

The bottom line is this: A handful of SEBAC union elite officials negotiated with the state on their own and locked individual bargaining unit leaders—and thus rank-and-file union members—out of the process completely. That is unforgivable, and those leaders no longer deserve the right to represent state employees. That’s what’s behind this struggle for us state workers to get out from under the iron fist of our current SEBAC unions.

It’s unfortunate that in such a heroic effort to present “both” sides (as if there are only two!), the author of this blog entry failed to highlight this crucial fact. Couching the stolen negotiation process in phrases like “failed to listen to it’s members” hardly conveys the truth of the matter. They joined forces with Malloy to lock us out completely and deliberately.

The fact that this comment is being made anonymously doesn’t make an easily verifiable claim any less true. The complaint about the anonymity is a cop-out. For months now, many of us have offered investigative leads to the press on a silver platter. You simply choose to ignore them. I’ve stopped guessing why. Personal fiscal outlook? Support for health care reform? Manipulation by SEBAC’s lawyers? Convenience? I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter. The end result is the same.

Luckily, SEBAC hasn’t published a rebuttal on this yet, or there’d be a handy link to SEBAC’s spin at the end of the blog entry to “help debunk some of the misconceptions” being generated by the raider unions!

Fairness and accuracy in reporting. R-i-g-h-t.

—perturbed

posted by: sickofit | September 2, 2011  1:14pm

perturbed: Though some of your criticisms are valid, I think you’re being a tad hard on Christine. Other than Pelto and Rennie, only Christine has written about some of our (rank&file; members angry at SEBAC & the guv) concerns. True enough she tends to downplay our comments and give more play to SEBAC & Malloy in her reports, but she has given us this avenue for our complaints and hasn’t censored them. Having said that, I emailed her a few days ago to discuss any of these matters when she challenge my anonymity. I refused to “come out” due to concerns for my job. I have no doubt that the bully Malloy would retaliate (as he has with the State Police) if he new who to retaliate against. And the crooked Union would be happy to be rid of us. But I gave her my email address and offered to discuss these issues from the point of view of a Union delegate that is supporting the move to UPSEU and a moderate Republican who voted for Malloy because I thought he would be better for State workers and Labor. Also, as one who has spent more time in private industry than in State service. She has not yet responded to my offer.

posted by: Sadie | September 2, 2011  2:00pm

I completely agree with “Perturbed” about the SEBAC 15, so, where do we start and replacing them?  Maybe that’s the solution instead of jumping ship to another union, we know nothing about.  And, what I mean by UPSEU being a stepping stone, can you say TEAMSTERS?

posted by: sickofit | September 2, 2011  2:43pm

Sadie, it would be a long, hard road to replace the members of SEBAC. Each individual Union would have to vote out their current president when their next elections come up. Also, they have a strangle hold on the CSEA Executive Council (and I would bet on AFSME’s etc. as well). They are well intrenched. For example, the CSEA has 20+ Executive Council members who make all decisions for the CSEA (including not letting the rank & file vote on whether to stay in the SEIU a few years ago. Since they were the ones who ushered them in, they naturally voted to stay with them.) Of those 20+ it took years for P-4 to get 4-5 members on that council. With a move to UPSEU, we could be rid of them and the dues draining SEIU in just a few months. Whether UPSEU will be better remains to be seen, but they are non-political and will not keep raising dues to fill the coffers of one political party as the SEIU does. And I would think that after seeing our reaction to our current Union, they would be on their best behavior to represent us fairly and with our input. P-4 would be it’s own local, with our own people whom we elected and would have a seat on SEBAC to voice our own opinions. At the DOT where I work, HR has emailed all of us acknowledging that the State Labor Board has informed them of the P-4 petition and that a vote will be set up as soon as the green cards are counted and verified. It is my understanding that 740 signed green cards are required and 1100 were submitted for verification. They have also acknowledged that 5 other State Unions have submitted green cards for verification to join UPSEU as well as the prison guards and supervisors’s unions to join that Mass. corrections union. I expected the CSEA (and the others) will try every dirty trick in the book to sabotage any vote and fight to keep the millions of dollars in dues that they stand to lose. Let there be no mistake about this, to CSEA/SEIU this is all about money and power, not about it’s rank & file dues payers.

posted by: Sadie | September 2, 2011  4:27pm

Well said “sickofit” except because AFSME had many locals in Council 4, and each local has it’s own board.  The president’s of each local have nothing to do with SEBAC.  Sal Luciano who is the Executive Director for AFSME Council 4 is the person sitting on SEBAC, deciding for all the locals.  It’s a little different than some of the smaller unions.

posted by: perturbed | September 5, 2011  1:29am

perturbed

@sickofit—I responded to you, but it came out even harsher. I must have crossed a line; the reply wasn’t published. That’s fair enough, we are all just guests here, guests that have been graciously allowed a replacement forum when our own union coalition locked us out completely. It’s probably better left unsaid. As you are, I am thankful for what we have here. Christine has been tolerant, perhaps to a fault. And I don’t harbor any ill will towards her or the work she does in general. (If this were a regular forum, I could respond to you privately.)

So let me just say this: don’t put yourself at too much risk. You can’t be sure your identity will be protected. Union officers have protections we don’t.

BTW, has anyone else noticed how the poster formerly known as “SteveHC” has been mysteriously—and retroactively—transformed into “NOW What?”?

I’m absolutely sure I was quoting “SteveHC” on this page (Clarified Agreement Reached; Will The Second Time Be The Charm?), but now the comments appear to have been written by “NOW What?”.

It never would have occurred to me to try and cover my tracks by changing screen names.

It kind of makes me puzzled…

—perturbed

posted by: sickofit | September 5, 2011  6:05pm

@perturbed: Christine did respond to my email the other day. She explained that we couldn’t continue to correspond if I insisted on staying anonymous. I declined for obvious reasons to let her use my name. Though I explained, I am not really anonymous since she now has my name and email address, I just don’t want it printed so I am not swamped with calls and emails from people that disagree with me. And then there is the issue of retaliation from the guv, the Union and other morons at work, which I believe is real. Any way, good luck to you. By the way, wasn’t “puzzled” another commenter from another column?  ;>)

posted by: perturbed | September 6, 2011  6:23am

perturbed

“Christine did respond to my email the other day. She explained that we couldn’t continue to correspond if I insisted on staying anonymous.”

That just sounds crazy. Aren’t people speaking on condition of anonymity relied upon by the very best journalists in the largest, most well respected newsrooms in the world as a means to uncover the truth? Isn’t it a means to obtain important information that otherwise would not be made available? (Think about Bob Woodward’s “Deep Throat” in the Watergate scandal.) From what you’ve said, you have first hand information on this issue, and an interesting perspective. Why would that be ignored just because you don’t want to risk your career to make public statements?

Haven’t journalists chosen to go to jail to protect the identity of their unnamed sources? But in this case, you won’t even be consulted? This is baffling.

Yet sheer nonsense is routinely printed from the likes of SEBAC mouthpieces Dorman and O’Conner, just because they agree to be publicly quoted?

It’s baffling. Makes you wonder if uncovering the truth is really the objective. (Oops, there I go again.)

—perturbed

posted by: Christine Stuart | September 6, 2011  8:00am

Christine Stuart

There’s no reason to have anonymity to complain about the SEBAC deal. It’s ridiculous to suggest there is and my ethics would be questioned if I allowed it. If you could prove you would be harmed then I may consider it, but to compare yourself to Deep Throat is a joke.

posted by: sickofit | September 6, 2011  5:10pm

OK everyone, just calm down now, please. But Christine, it is not your place to say “There’s no reason to have anonymity to complain about the SEBAC deal. It’s ridiculous to suggest there is…” You didn’t got thru what we just went thru for several months. The threats, lies and underhanded dealings from Malloy and SEBAC. And it’s not your job on the line. The only way we could
“prove” to you that we could be harmed is to lose our jobs or destroy any chance of career advancement. Then maybe you would agree but we would be screwed. We have nothing to gain and everything to lose, so please don’t presume to tell us that we have nothing to worry about.

posted by: Christine Stuart | September 6, 2011  8:57pm

Christine Stuart

I am certainly not asking anyone to lose their jobs to prove a point. Obviously there is concern and sometimes going public with something protects you, other times it doesn’t. Consequences need to be weighed I agree. I apologize if I hurt anyone’s feelings, but mine were beginning to be hurt too.