Correction supervisors voted overwhelmingly to keep their current representation, and rejected an offer to join a Massachusetts-based union.
Of the approximately 500 member bargaining group, about 428 of supervisors were eligible to vote. Of that 182 voted to keep their current union, 37 voted to join the National Correctional Employees Union, and one voted for no union representation, Ben Phillips, spokesman for CSEA/SEIU Local 2001 said Tuesday.
The results were tallied and counted by the Board of Labor Relations, which allowed the vote to go forward when it decided the window for requesting a vote was filed at a time when the unit didn’t have a contract. The Correction supervisors were just one of two bargaining units to reject the state employees concession package last summer.
The vitriol over the concession package and the distrust of current union leadership by some of its members is what prompted NCEU to come into the state and offer an alternative. But CSEA/SEIU Local 2001 prevailed in keeping its union representation.
“We’re really excited about the results,” Phillips said Tuesday. “We wanted to show the state that we were not a divided union going into contract negotiations.”
The bargaining unit has been without a contract since 2011. Phillips said the petition from NCEU and the subsequent Board of Labor Relations complaint had been holding up negotiations on a new contract.
The result of the vote, which was conducted over the past two days at nine different locations, was not surprising, Phillips said.
The Board of Labor Relations ordered the vote to occur within 30 days of its decision, and happened to fall around the same time as many summer vacations.
There were several questions from members about absentee ballots, Phillips said. But absentee ballots are not allowed in these types of elections.
Christopher Murphy, executive director of NCEU, was not immediately available for comment Tuesday evening.
However, last week he remained optimistic union members were still yearning for change one year later.
“People want change. They’re looking for a union that will provide them with better representation,” he said.
NCEU wasn’t the only union looking to offer state employees a choice. Its sister-union, the United Public Service Employees Union, also wanted to hold an election for judicial marshals, probation officers, and the State Engineering, Scientific and Technical Unit, also known as P-4.
But the Board of Labor Relations sided with the state and the incumbent unions who maintained that state employees essentially closed the window to switch unions when they voted to approve the concession agreement in August 2011. The window doesn’t open for these bargaining groups again until 2016, according to the attachments to the concession deal.
UPSEU, the New York-based union, isn’t giving up the fight easily.
“While disappointed in the decision we were always cognizant of the possibility that the matter would ultimately need to be decided by the courts given the high stakes political ramifications of any decision granting UPSEU elections,“ UPSEU President Kevin Boyle said in early July. “Unfortunately we were right. This is far from over.”