Repost from the D&C by Jill Terreri
Rochester, N.Y.-- Monroe County was on the losing side once again regarding its interaction with part-time workers, according to a decision issued by the state Appellate Division.
The county's survey of part-time workers asking if they wanted to still be represented by a union violates civil service law, according to the court, which released a decision this week.
The county had queried part-time workers represented by CSEA after learning there were vacancies in the bargaining unit's leadership. The survey asked one question, whether workers wanted to continue to be represented.
CSEA filed an improper practice charge with the Public Employment Relations Board, and an administrative law judge decided the county had interfered with employees' protected rights.
The county then brought its case to the full employment relations board, which affirmed the administrative law judge's decision, saying the survey was "inherently destructive of the rights of organization."
When the county lost with the board, it brought a suit against the board and CSEA to the state Appellate Division, which affirmed the lower decisions.
"What it means is that the county was found to have acted in bad faith and really overstepped the legal bounds of proper labor management relations," said CSEA lawyer Paul Bamberger. "In that sense, what we've been saying all along in that they had acted in a heavy-handed way with us and be more reasonable and work more cooperatively with us, that position has been vindicated."
The county had maintained, based on a contract with the union, that a secret ballot election could be held to determine whether employees wanted to continue to be represented if it first received evidence that 30 percent of the members questioned their represented status.
"The county felt that the ruling by the state agency was incorrect and denied us certain rights and benefits that we had negotiated with the union and that the union had agreed to," said county spokesman Noah Lebowitz.
"The bottom line is we think employees should have a right to choose whether they are a member of a union or not."
The employment relations board found the contract language did not give the county authority to actively solicit opinions regarding CSEA.
The county is considering whether to appeal the decision.