Subpoenaed computer records indicate the controversial “Attachment H” to the state employee bargaining agreement was not finalized until after union members voted on it, according to a lawyer looking to call a union election.
The clause is being used to block employees trying to oust the current unions that represent them. Many employees complained that they never saw the attachment before they voted on the State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition agreement
Barbara Resnick, a lawyer for United Public Service Employees Union, said that’s because it wasn’t even finished yet.
Resnick said the computer records she subpoenaed from Labor Relations Director Linda Yelmini show that the file the attachment was typed in was not finalized until Aug. 18. Union members finished voting on the agreement the night before.
Resnick is hoping that the Board of Labor Relations will take that into consideration as it decides whether it will accept a petition by UPSEU to allow an election over who gets to represent a handful of bargaining groups currently represented by other unions.
“Now that there’s proof that the attachment wasn’t drafted before the vote, I think that should have bearing on the Labor Board’s decision,” she said.
J. William Gagne, an attorney representing one of the SEBAC unions, said Resnick’s statements alleging she had proven last week the attachment was drafted were inaccurate.
“The board will make the decision about when Attachment H was developed and whether it has any relevance or not,” he said.
He said he doesn’t believe the Labor Relations Board has the power to overturn the will of the General Assembly which accepted the agreement, including the attachment.
“The legislature could pass a statute saying there’s no more Labor Board and that’s the end of it,” Gagne said last week.
Resnick said she objects to the notion that the window to file an election petition closes simply because the General Assembly pre-voted on a matter.
She said she is not asking the board to overturn anything the legislature did, only to decide to allow an election based on a standard of good cause. If members didn’t actually get to vote on the provision that prevents them from switching unions, it should be considered, she said.
“Whether or not these members had any idea that after they voted someone was going to stick something in there to screw them, I think should certainly be considered in a good cause evaluation,” she said.
Resnick said the attachment itself should be deemed null because it is “fundamentally wrong” to hold workers to something they never approved.
The SEBAC unions have maintained the provision is standard legal language, which doesn’t allow any of the SEBAC membership to go after each others’ members.
Last month, in a similar case, the labor board sided with the union currently representing corrections officers. UPSEU’s sister union, the National Correction Employees Union, had also filed an election petition. However, the board said the union missed the window to file.
Resnick said she did not expect the board’s NCEU decision to impact her case, which she said was a “distinct” situation. Unlike the rest of the bargaining groups being contested, the petition window for the corrections workers would have been in August 2010.
The Labor Board will hold additional hearings on the UPSEU case on Feb. 9 and 15.