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Union vote set for water/sewer workers

July 29, 1998|By LAURA ERNDE

Washington County Water and Sewer Department employees will decide Aug. 26 whether to join the Teamsters union.

The county and Teamsters Local 103 agreed to election terms Tuesday after meeting with arbitrator Ira Jaffe of Potomac, Md., said County Attorney Richard Douglas.

The Washington County Board of Election Supervisors will conduct the election from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. at three water and sewer locations.

About 45 employees are eligible to vote.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 67 had also petitioned to organize the department.

But AFSCME withdrew under the rules of the AFL-CIO, to which both unions belong, Douglas said.

The Teamsters and the county also settled the issue of whether 11 employees are eligible to vote. Eight are workers who can vote and the other three are supervisors who can't join a union, according to the agreement.

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Before the election, the county will meet with employees to discuss the effects of joining a union, he said.

Employees would have to pay union dues and may be subject to other fines and assessments, he said.

"That's another layer between them and the management," Douglas said.

Bill Mowery, organizing director for Teamsters Local 103, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Last week, Mowery was confident that his efforts to organize the department would pay off. More than 40 water and sewer employees had signed representation cards asking for a union, he said.

Jaffe will remain the neutral party throughout the election, with his fees to be split between the union and the county.

The water and sewer department was created in July 1995, when the county took over the Washington County Sanitary District and its employees became county employees.

About 85 county employees are currently being represented by a union, AFSCME Local 2677. They work for the roads department, landfill and County Commuter.

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