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City commissioners authorize petition to decertify union

8/10/2012

By DAWNE LEIKER

dleiker@dailynews.net

Hays city commissioners passed a resolution Thursday night authorizing a petition to decertify the Service Employees International Union Local 513.

The city of Hays has three bargaining units, including the International Association of Firefighters, the Fraternal Order of Police and SEIU Local 513.

Governed by the Public Employee-Employer Relations Act that dictates a recognized employee organization shall represent not less than a majority of the employees of an appropriate unit, the city has been tracking membership in all its bargaining units since 2004.

As of July 31, 52 employees are eligible to be part of SEIU Local 513. Only 15 are members.

"I find this troubling for two aspects," said City Manager Toby Dougherty. "This union has the sole ability to come in and negotiate conditions of employment for all employees eligible to be part of this unit.

"So we have a legal obligation to discuss only with the union conditions of the employment for those 52 employees."

Dougherty said that situation would not be problematic in the event the union represented a majority of those eligible for membership, a situation that has not occurred since 2007.

When approached by eligible non-union employees with issues that might involve a condition of employment, Dougherty has been obligated to refer the employee to the union, without being able to respond to their issues.

Contract agreements with all three unions recently were approved after a "very amicable negotiation," he said.

"But once again, it reinforced that we have 15 employees dictating the terms for 52 employees," he said. "And we can't do anything about it.

"This is, quite frankly, minority rule, and I don't think it's fair."

The petition for decertification, having been approved by commissioners, will be presented to the Public Employee Relations Board.