KING COUNTY ATTEMPTS TO CENSOR UNION
KING COUNTY ATTEMPTS TO CENSOR UNION (Washington State, USA)
Stunned and stung by the global criticism of their union busting
tactics, King County filed legal papers with the Public Employment
Relations Commission on February 18th seeking a gag order to silence
criticism of the County by the International Federation of Professional
& Technical Engineers Local 17.
"The very fact that they would try to get such a gag order illustrates
the effectiveness of our grassroots campaign" said Union Representative
Ray Goforth. "With this action the employer's arrogance and
for the democratic process has been laid bare before the world."
This act of attempted censorship is the latest chapter in a bitter
union-busting campaign conducted by the King County Department of
Development & Environmental Services. Many observers have been
by the fact that this union animus has thrived under the progressive and
popular King County Executive Ron Sims.
"Executive Sims is an honorable man and a friend of labor" noted
Goforth. "Unfortunately, he has been ill-served by some of his
subordinates. However, the flood of e-mail criticism has broken
the wall of lies erected by those subordinates and I am confident that
Executive Sims will investigate and terminate those responsible for this
union busting campaign. Local 17 is grateful to all those who have
written e-mails on our behalf and we ask that our supporters keep the
The federal Family and Medical Leave Act allows an employer to request
medical certification forms from disabled employees. The Act provides
that employees have a minimum of 15 days to comply with the request.
After three incidents where International Federation of Professional and
Technical Engineers Local 17 shop stewards were given less than the
required 15 days, the Union performed a records search. That search
proved that all of the FMLA medical certification requests issued by
Manager Lynn Baugh targeted Shop Stewards with deadlines that violated
federal law while rank-and-file employees were given the required 15
days, a longer deadline, or no deadline at all.
After one of the incidents noted above, Union Representative Ray Goforth
called to request documents needed to advise and defend Shop Steward
Sheri McKee against threatened discipline. Management refused to
respond to the inquiry because Manager Lynn Baugh took offense at the
"tone of voice" used by the Union Representative.
After refusing orders from his manager to bypass environmental
regulations that he is charged with enforcing, supervisor Jeff O'Neill
was told that management would find someone more compliant to assume his
duties. Shortly thereafter Jeff's position was "reorganized"
his power. Other duties were also stripped from him. Jeff is one
the few supervisors at DDES who is a union member. Management has made
it clear to him that his life would be easier if he was not in the
Ken Grubbs is a shop steward, negotiating team member and former chapter
vice-president. Two days after Ken testified before the King County
Council about problems at DDES, he was notified that his automobile
allowance was being terminated. A check of the records uncovered an
e-mail proving that DDES management had earlier contacted Ken's
insurance company providing information they believed would increase
Ken's insurance rates.
When the Union learned that some of its members were to be ordered to
work on a hazardous waste site (this not being part of their job), the
Union demanded to bargain the effects of this change. DDES management
acknowledged their legal duty to engage in these negotiations but have
refused to sit down for negotiations for the past 8 months.
WHAT TO DO:
IFPTE Local 17 is calling upon all supporters of the social justice and
labor movements to help end this union-busting campaign. Please send
polite e-mails to the following individuals requesting that they STOP
THE CENSORSHIP, STOP THE UNION-BUSTING AT DDES.
King County Executive Ron Sims firstname.lastname@example.org
DDES Director Greg Kipp email@example.com
Please CC your e-mails to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Further information is available from:
Ray Goforth, Union Representative
International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers Local 17
2900 Eastlake Ave East Suite 300
Seattle, WA 98102 USA
(VOICE) 1-206-328-7321 ext. 105