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T i m e s

February 28 2009

The Purpose of This Communication

The purpose of this communication is to:

  • Provide members that did not attend the February 25 Monthly Meeting with a brief synopsis;
  • Update members on subsequent actions taken as result of the meeting;
  • Clarify expectations about the outcomes from the meeting;
  • Remind members of the bylaws, as well as the roles and responsibilities within TEA; and,
  • Update members on our pending unfair labor practice to challenge the County's unilateral furlough implementation and failure to bargain.

Monthly Meeting Synopsis and Results

During TEA's February 25th monthly meeting the following motion was made by Mr. Stan Hummel.

I move that, no later than the close of business tomorrow, President Roger Browne send the following letter by fax, email and regular mail to the Public Employment Relations Commission, with copies to King County and Teamsters Local Union No 117:

On behalf of the Technical Employees Association, this is a request to proceed immediately to election in Case No. 22023-E-08-3397 (Transit Staff) and Case No. 221232-E-08-3418 (Wastewater Supervisors). Without waiving our right to process all pending unfair labor practice charges filed by the Technical Employees Associations, no unfair labor practices charge filed by TEA should be treated by the Commission as blocking the processing of those pending election cases.

I further move that TEA take no further steps to block the elections in those pending cases, that no attempt to forestall or prevent such democratic process be continued or newly initiated by TEA, and that TEA take any and all steps possible to allow these elections to proceed as soon as possible.

During this discussion, Ms. Marilyn Toth stated that she had been advised by a PERC officer that the above action could be taken without any affect on the pending ULPs. Mr. Darryl Myers expressed concern that inadequate time was provided to consider the ramifications of implementing the motion. Mr. Wyatt Wood stated that we should be careful not to allow the tyranny of the majority to impose its will on the minority. Mr. Stan Hummel responded to a question from Mr. Ade Franklin and clarified that is was not his intention to have the ULP dismissed and only wished to proceed with an election regarding representation. Mr. Franklin and Mr. John Phillips informed the attendees that TEA had the legal and fiduciary responsibility to represent all of its members, including those with dissenting or minority opinions. Mr. Hummel also stated that the Board had received a request similar to the motion in December and that three fourths of the supervisors had signed cards.

The question was brought before the members attending the meeting. A vote of 40 for and 15 against was achieved and recorded.

Pursuant this motion, TEA board members immediately sought legal counsel to confirm the validity of the assertion that the motion could be implemented without any adverse affect on pending ULPs and whether there are any legal issues or questions that should be considered in associated with this proposed action by the TEA.

Mr. Jim Cline, legal counsel for TEA, informed the Board that the motion could not be undertaken without adversely affecting pending ULPs. The idea that TEA could allow the Wastewater Supervisors and/or Transit members to immediately vote on their respective petitions for elections and still protect all the remedies being sought with PERC on the furlough is not valid.

PERC case holdings explain that if a ULP is not resolved before the election, the ULP would be dismissed and no remedy would be granted were the Teamsters to succeed in raiding TEA. [City of Omak , Decision 5463 (PECB 1996); City of Brier , Decision 9931 (PECB, 2007); City of Lakewood , Decision 7398 (PECB 2001); Peninsula College, Decision 5017 (CCOL 1995);] Full examples of these cases have been posted on the TEA bulletin boards.

In addition, it is rare for a bargaining organization to proceed to an election without resolving the ULPs first. Last year the Teamsters, in an election involving King County , asserted a ULP as a "blocking charge" before it proceeded to an election with a labor group challenging it. [ King County, Decision 10183 (PECB 2008)] The Teamsters are encouraging our members to take a position consistent with the Teamsters interests but inconsistent with the interests of TEA members.

The motion and a clarification of the intent of the motion are expressed thusly:

  1. The unfair labor practices charge filed by TEA should not be treated by the PERC as blocking the processing of Case No. 22023-E-08-3397 (Transit Staff) and Case No. 221232-E-08-3418 (Wastewater Supervisors).
  2. Allow elections in Case No. 22023-E-08-3397 (Transit Staff) and Case No. 221232-E-08-3418 (Wastewater Supervisors) to immediately proceed.
  3. Preserve TEA rights to process pending unfair labor practice charges.

Please do not allow misinformation to cloud the issue. These three provisions cannot be simultaneously met. Consequently, the Board has rejected the floor vote. The Board has a duty of fair representation for each member. The Board cannot allow members' right to full and effective representation to be lost by implementing this motion. The Board will continue to advocate in opposition to all unilateral reductions in wages and any failure to bargain. The Board is committed to presenting honest, fair and truthful information about your rights. And though members may continue to receive propaganda from others; the Board is committed to setting the record straight in an open and ethical manner.

Bylaws, Roles and Responsibilities

According to TEA Bylaws, the motion and vote taken at the February 25 Monthly Meeting is advisory and to be considered by the Board when making decisions and before taking action. The advisory nature of votes called during weekly or monthly meetings is critically important to maintaining the integrity of the Association. It prevents a self selected group of members from presenting and passing motions requiring the Board to take action without the consent of the full membership.

Imagine a group of 40 members that wish to decertify TEA. This hypothetical group could select a particular monthly meeting in which they were ensured a majority vote to present such a decertifying motion. Without prior notice, members would be unaware that a significant and important issue was being brought to a vote. Consequently, attendance at his meeting would be dominated by the 40 members that wished to decertify and the motion would pass. If such a vote were not advisory, the Board would be directed and bound by the passed motion to decertify the Association.

This specific issue was expressly contemplated when TEA was formed; as a result, this constraint—that motions presented by the members would be only advisory—was codified in the bylaws as a result.

It is also important to be mindful that TEA was not established as a strict democratic organization. More specifically, TEA is defined as a representative democracy where members are guaranteed the right to vote on contracts, board members and changes in dues or bylaws. The Board represents the rights and interests of the members and is responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the Association. The Council is the only body that can direct the Board; and the Council's authority is limited to directing the Board to hold a special meeting.

The ULP Update

The ULP has been given preliminary approval by PERC and is in the process of being set for a hearing. The Wastewater Staff bargaining unit is in the process of bargaining with the County for a contract and those negotiations include discussions about the furlough. No other bargaining about the furlough is occurring with other bargaining units because of the pending Teamster petitions.