By TIM ROWDEN
Union needs your help to call County Commissioners
Union, MO – The Franklin County Commission is refusing to bargain with its union employees in the County Highway Department.
Operating Engineers Local 148 represents 51 members in the County Highway Department. Their contract expires on Dec. 31 of this year.
The County, on advice from the Sandberg Phoenix law firm is refusing to recognize Local 148 as the duly elected representative of the highway department workers.
“They are claiming that House Bill 1413 requires recertification and until we comply they are not going to recognize us,” said Local 148 Business Representative Doug Williams.
HB 1413, a “paycheck deception” measure was passed last year by the Republican-led Missouri legislature and signed by former governor Eric Greitens specifically targeting public sector unions. The bill initially took effect in August 2018 but is now on hold, along with SB 1007 which stripped state employees of their civil service protections, pending the outcome of a pair of lawsuits the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Communications Workers of America Local 6355, and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1.
In other words, HB 1413, which would require the State Board of Mediation (SBM) to conduct a new certification election, is not in effect and the SBM cannot conduct a certification because of a preliminary injunction issued pending the outcome of the lawsuit.
But that isn’t the only trick up Franklin County Commissioners’ sleeves. They also stalled the start of negotiations this summer – apparently to give themselves time to enact a Commission Order 2019-337 which restricts items that can be bargained.
“Our first negotiation meeting was set for July 31 of this year,” Williams said. “About two weeks prior, I had sent, per the county’s request, a copy of our proposals for negotiation. We met on that day, but County was not prepared to negotiate. All they wanted to talk about at that meeting were ground rules for bargaining. We tried to set dates for additional bargaining in August, but the County said they had no dates.
“In September, we found out the County had passed Commission Order 2019-337,” Williams said. “The Commission passed it on Aug. 13. It’s very restrictive on what we can bargain. It makes ‘by Commission Order’ things that would normally be bargained things can’t be bargained. The Order also makes it impossible for us to negotiate over a host of issues, all of which we believe violates the members’ constitutional right to collectively bargain.”
Whether commissioners intentionally delayed the start of bargaining to allow the Commission time to pass the restrictive order is unclear, but the timing is certainly circumspect.
Local 148 is asking Franklin County residents to call their County Commissioners and ask that they to stop wasting taxpayers’ dollars on an ill-advised scheme to deny Highway Department employees their constitutional right to bargain.
If you’re a Franklin County resident, you can reach the Commissioners at the following numbers.
- Presiding Commissioner Tim Brinker – 636-583-6360.
- 1st District Commissioner Todd Boland – 636-583-6359.
- 2nd District Commissioner Dave Hinson – 636-583-6358.