Jefferson County jailers’ union decertifies
Less than 19 months after forming a union with American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office employees elected to decertify their union effective Monday, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office.
“The union had asked for and moved from earning a salary to an hourly rate last year,” said Jefferson County Sheriff Gregg Morton. “It cost them wages.”
In November, at this year’s initial negotiation session between AFSCME Council 61 representative/negotiator Steve Siegel and Jefferson County Board of Supervisors, Siegel said proposals approved and put into place would apply to the full bargaining unit of 14 jail employees who did not belong to the union as well as the three employees who were members of the union.
Tuesday, Siegel confirmed the number of employees: 14-non union and three union members make up the bargaining unit. Siegel declined any further comment.
Those who attended the meeting when employees, represented by Siegel, voted to decertify the union, were Siegel, Morton, Jefferson County attorney Tim Dille, county auditor Scott Reneker and county jail administrator Mike Simons.
The negotiation meetings since November had been closed to the public. In November, the union proposed the following changes to the contract:
• The current overtime practice is that all employees who work in excess of 171 hours in a 28-day period are paid overtime. The new proposal is that all employees who work in excess of 40 hours in a week shall be paid at the rate of 1.5 their normal rate.
Paid leaves and vacation shall not be counted as working time for purpose of determining overtime; proposed change, paid leaves, vacation and holidays shall be counted to determine overtime.
• Holidays: New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving day and Friday after, and Christmas Day are nine days a year recognized as holidays. Currently, all full-time employees are paid straight, regular rate of pay.
Proposed change: Employees shall be paid two times their straight time for all hours worked on a holiday.
• Safety rules and working conditions. Jailers lost some of the benefits when the union came in, said Siegel. Now, the union is asking to restore these proposed changes: Jefferson County will pay full cost of an eye exam and for lenses that meet OSHA standards once every 24 months.
County pays for full cost of frames that meet OSHA standards, up to a maximum cost of $50, then one-half of cost exceeding $450. Frames are limited to one pair every 24 months.
• Insurance. Currently, jailers receive an allowance to purchase medical insurance in an amount as allotted by the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors each fiscal year.
The union proposes a change to: County shall continue to provide health insurance options to employees as of July 1, 2012. The county will pay for the entire premium for employees and 75 percent of the difference between single and family coverage for those employees desiring family coverage. The county will continue to provide all other insurance coverages available to employees as of July 1.
• Salaries. The union is requesting a 4 percent increase in base hourly salaries for fiscal year 2013-2014. The lowest current hourly pay is $16.19; a 4 percent increase would bring it up to $16.84. The highest hourly pay is currently $17.28; the increase would be to $17.97 per hour.
Monday’s news release announcing the union’s decertification, included: “Sheriff Gregg Morton looks forward to working with employees as they have done historically, without the influence of an outside entity.”