Commissioners file unfair labor practice charges against union

September 07, 1997


Staff Writer

The Washington County Commissioners have filed unfair labor practice charges against the union that represents the county's roads, bus and landfill employees.

The charges seek an order that the union agree to a collective bargaining agreement, that the union pay the county's legal fees and that the union be suspended from representing county employees.

Frank L. Kollman, the Baltimore attorney who is handling negotiations with the union for the county at $175 an hour, filed the charges with the County Commissioners and with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 67 and Local 2677.


Kollman said the County Commissioners under state law will make the decision on whether or not an unfair labor practice has occurred.

Kollman said the union and the county have to decide on a federal mediator who will hold a hearing, make a determination and issue a recommendation to the County Commissioners, who will ultimately decide what penalties to assess.

Kollman contends that the state law mandating that the county negotiate with the union has only eight items of discussion that must be negotiated, in addition to a number of permissible items and several illegal items.

Kollman said that the union and county had reached an agreement on all the mandatory items but the union refused to sign an agreement because the non-mandatory items, such as having a dues checkoff procedure, weren't discussed. Kollman said that was illegal and a refusal to bargain.

County Commissioner James R. Wade said the county wasn't interested in discussing what it wasn't required to under the law.

Union officials have said previously that there was no way they would sign an agreement with the county that only discussed what the county wanted to discuss and not what the union considered important.

"They're just nuts," said Council 67 President Darlene Strock.

"They're a total bunch of idiots."

Commissioner Ronald L. Bowers blasted the move, saying the only one who would wind up a winner was Kollman. Bowers said there were many more pressing problems in the county that the commissioners should deal with, and recommended going back to an old agreement between the union and county.

On another front, Washington County Human Resources Director Alan J. Davis ordered that the union not be allowed to post union notices and other information on county bulletin boards until a formal collective bargaining agreement is settled.

Davis said Friday that's been the policy since the County Commissioners decertified the union in the spring. He reaffirmed the policy to department heads Thursday, he said.

"It was my decision," Davis said.

"I think having a union bulletin board is fine when you have a union contract but until you get one I don't think that it's necessary," Wade said.

But Bowers said it was a violation of the union's First Amendment rights and another example of the county harassing the union.

Local 2677 Vice President Edward Robinson said the county's action was petty.

Kollman said he didn't know about the action, but said it was appropriate not to allow the union to post "propaganda" on county bulletin boards while the union wasn't cooperating in bargaining.

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