August 25, 2002
Brothers & Sisters,
The UTU's latest mailout is signed by Mike Weatherell. In it he tells us he doesn't take the position that we should seek representation by a different union. However, when the issue of his position on this matter was first raised on the UTU message board his reaction was that he didn't suppose he could talk to me (Ray Sanderford) in confidence anymore. It was a day or two later that Mike Weatherell made the UTU message board read-only, and deleted the great majority of the threads that existed there, including the one regarding this topic. Now obviously Mike and I have differing opinions as to whether or not he spoke to me in confidence. Obviously I don't think he did. The question is what it was he said to me. The answer's obvious, but I'd suggest you ask him, just to be sure.
Mr. Weatherell tells us that if 30% of our members sign 302 cards there will be an election. He's right. Signing the card doesn't mean we're going to switch to 302. It means all the facts about each organization will be made available to the Membership, and the Membership will vote to decide which one will represent us most effectively. Isn't letting the Membership decide by majority vote the best thing to do? If the majority voted for Local 302 we would proceed to negotiations with Jeff Ackerman from Local 302 representing us. Jeff would have at least one of our group at the negotiating table with him. Logic would seem to dictate that that person would be Mike Weatherell or one of his committee members. Now we come to the question of how negotiations would proceed from that point. Mike Weatherell tells us that the negotiations would start over, and that the situation would be advantageous for the ARRC. I think that typifies his whole approach to these negotiations. We'd be sitting at the table with an Alaskan Union with much more clout than the UTU. We'd be sitting at the table with a professional negotiator representing us. We'd be in a situation where, unless the Membership dictated otherwise, we'd have nothing to do except restructure the dollars in the current contract proposal to be compatible with 302's pension and health insurance plans. What's advantageous to the ARRC about that situation, other than the fact that they'd be working with a professional negotiator and their objective of reaching an agreement with us would be met? Mike Weatherell needs to realize that the ARRC is not holding all the aces here, and that we can strengthen our position even more by switching to an Alaskan Union with a real presence in Juneau.
Now let's take a quick look at the position letter from Jermain, Dunnagan & Owens which accompanied Mike's letter. The last sentence of the first paragraph says, "As a practical matter the parties may wish to build on the work that was successfully completed earlier, but they are not legally required to do so." I wonder how much the letter from Dunnagan, and the mailing to distribute it cost? Wouldn't it have been less expensive for Mike to just ask the ARRC if they were going to do the practical thing and just move forward if we switched to 302? Whey didn't Mike ask that? Maybe because his ego can't bear the thought of this job getting finished by 302 instead of the UTU? As for Dunnagan's position that changing bargaining representatives "restarts the statutory bargaining process", take a look at the statutes he cites; they're attached to this letter. The question is whether or not it would be regressive for the ARRC to back away from its current proposal if we switched to 302. The exact same group of people are being represented at the negotiating table. The people are the Union. Read those statutes again. I'm not a lawyer, but I can't see it. Perhaps there's case law to support Dunnagan's position?
The third paragraph of Mike's letter is a fairly exhaustive list of the improvements made in the current contract proposal. He's right; there's a lot to like in the current proposal. That doesn't change the fact that only one of our primary objectives in these negotiations is met by the current proposal; eliminating the tiered pay scale. Our other primary objective was to improve our pensions; that's why we spent the first 8 or 10 months working on a salary plan isn't it? We can accomplish both objectives by switching to 302. Mike says the only thing that will come with another bargaining representative is uncertainty. How can he say that when he hasn't even asked the ARRC whether anything will change if we switch to 302? I think he's in way too big a hurry to slam the door on these contract negotiations, and I think each of us should ask ourselves why.
Are you one of the people who believe the Membership as a group should make the decisions that affect our futures? If so, find someone with a 302 card, fill it out and get it to me. Remember, signing the card doesn't mean we're switching to 302. It means the Membership will get to vote on that question, and the decision will be made by majority vote. Thanks for taking the time to read this. Call me at 337-1028 or 240-0739 if you have questions or need a card.
AS 42.40.750. Representatives and Elections.
(a)The railroad labor relations agency shall investigate a petition if it is submitted in a manner prescribed by the railroad labor relations agency by
(1)an employee or group of employees or an organization acting in their behalf alleging that 30 percent of the employees of a proposed bargaining unit
(A)want to be represented for collective bargaining by a labor or employee organization as exclusive representative; or
(B)assert that the organization that has been certified or is currently being recognized by the corporation as bargaining representative is no longer the representative of the majority of employees in an appropriate unit; or
(2)the corporation alleging that one or more organizations have presented to it a claim to be recognized as a representative of a majority of employees in an appropriate unit.
(b)If the railroad labor relations agency has reasonable cause to believe that a question of representation exists, it shall provide for a hearing upon due notice. If the railroad labor relations agency finds that there is a question of representation, it shall direct an election by secret ballot to determine whether or by which organization the employees desire to be represented and shall certify the results of the election. Nothing in this subsection prohibits the waiving of hearings by stipulation for the purpose of a consent election in conformity with the regulations of the railroad labor relations agency or an election in a bargaining unit agreed upon by the parties.
(c)The railroad labor relations agency shall determine who is eligible to vote in an election held under this section and shall adopt regulations governing the election. In an election in which none of the choices on the ballot receives a majority of the votes cast, a runoff election shall be conducted, the ballot providing for selection between the two choices receiving the largest number of valid votes cast in the election. If an organization receives the majority of the votes cast in the election, it shall be certified by the railroad labor relations agency as exclusive representative of all the employees in the bargaining unit. An election may not be held in a bargaining unit or in a subdivision of a bargaining unit if a valid election has been held within the preceding 12 months.
(d)Nothing in this chapter prohibits recognition of an organization as the exclusive representative by the corporation by mutual consent.
(e)An election may not be directed by the railroad labor relations agency in a bargaining unit in which there is in force a valid collective bargaining agreement, except during a 90-day period preceding the expiration date. However, a collective bargaining agreement may not bar an election upon petition of employees in the bargaining unit if
(1)the petitioners are not parties to the agreements; and
(2)more than three years have elapsed since the execution of the agreement or its last timely renewal, whichever was later.
AS 42.40.760. Unfair Labor Practices.
(a)The corporation or its agent may not
(1)interfere, restrain, or coerce an employee in the exercise of the rights guaranteed in AS 42.40.720 ;
(2)dominate or interfere with the formation, existence, or administration of an organization;
(3)discriminate in regard to hire or tenure of employment or a term or condition of employment to encourage or discourage membership in an organization;
(4)discharge or discriminate against an employee because the employee has signed or filed an affidavit, petition, or complaint or given testimony under AS 42.40.710 - 42.40.890;
(5)refuse to bargain collectively in good faith with an organization that is the exclusive representative of employees in an appropriate unit, including the discussing of grievances with the exclusive representative.
(b)Nothing in AS 42.40.710 - 42.40.890 prohibits the corporation from making an agreement with an organization to require as a condition of employment
(1)membership in the organization that represents the unit on or after the 30th day following the beginning of employment or on the effective date of the agreement, whichever is later; or
(2)payment by the employee to the exclusive bargaining agent of a service fee to reimburse the exclusive bargaining agency for the expense of representing the members of the bargaining unit.
(c)An organization or its agents may not
(1)restrain or coerce
(A)an employee in the exercise of the rights guaranteed in AS
(B)the corporation in the selection of a representative for the purposes of collective bargaining or the adjustment of grievances;
(2)refuse to bargain collectively in good faith with the corporation, if it has been designated in accordance with AS 42.40.710 - 42.40.890 as the exclusive representative of employees in an appropriate unit.