It lasted all of 45 seconds, but the “horseplay” that started with a headlock ended with the Judicial Branch terminating two union stewards working at the Hartford Juvenile Detention Center.
Jason Pelletier and John Woolard were placed on unpaid administrative leave Sept. 26 and terminated Oct. 13 after the incident which they believe had nothing to do with their termination.
“I believe I do my job pretty well,” Pelletier said earlier this week in a phone interview. “I believe I was fired to prove a point.”
AFSCME Council 4 the union that represents them filed a grievance on their behalf.
Pelletier said the horseplay is not uncommon in the workplace and it wasn’t like he and Woolard were actually fighting. He said the two are friends and after he got swept to the floor he got back up and the two continued to work the next three days together at the facility.
“We believe the Judicial Branch terminated Jason and John because they were union stewards who effectively represented our members. The discipline is excessive to say the least, and leaves us no choice but to file this complaint,” Kevin Murphy, Council 4’s director of collective bargaining and organizing, said.
Pelletier has worked as a juvenile detention officer for nearly 15 years, Woolard has been there 8 years, and neither were offered any form of progressive discipline after being place on unpaid administrative leave for the incident.
The Judicial Branch declined to comment on the firings.
Larry Dorman, spokesman for AFSCME Council 4, said Pelletier has been outspoken regarding the people he represents.
In February Pelletier was one of the union members to speak out against what the union felt was understaffing at the three juvenile detention centers in Bridgeport, Hartford, and New Haven. The one in New Haven has since closed as the Judicial Branch sought to find savings in its budget.
Pelletier said that he worked to organize the part-time employees at the facilities and often “butted heads with the administration.”
He said before he became a steward he never had any disciplinary action taken against him.
The Labor Board of Relations is expected to schedule a hearing in the matter.