Union membership on the line for some employees

Union membership on the line for some employees

NEGAUNEE — A local union is voicing their concerns after their city council decided to look into whether they could take away collective bargaining rights from certain employees. ABC 10’s Sarah Mac has more on what positions this decision could affect and what the union has to say.

Members of local AFSCME 1415 are currently involved in meetings with members of Negaunee’s city council after they voted to petition the state for a unit clarity meeting. These meetings came after the council determined that the city hall unit or supervisory unit holds executive, or managerial, positions that are usually not eligible for collective bargaining.

At their last meeting the council voted to petition the state to clarify whether their conclusion is accurate before moving forward.

Negaunee City Manager Jeff Thornton says, “It’s been talked about over the years with previous city managers and previous city councils, and I think it came time to finally decide to have somebody look at it and determine whether it’s an appropriate bargaining unit here within the city of Negaunee.”

Positions in that unit include the Treasurer, Police Chief, Director of Public Works and the city clerk.

Union representative John Thomas says that they don’t disagree that these positions are managerial, however he questions the council’s motives in removing them from a union.

“It works here,” AFSCME Staff Representative John Thomas added, “there isn’t a level of employees underneath that they’re managing on a daily basis, that most of these positions are individual positions and that they’re just looking for the protection that the union does provide them.”

Thomas says that union members will probably appear for public comment at the next council meeting.

“Let’s stop it now,” Thomas added, “let’s stop it before it goes any further. Thursday night’s a council meeting, we ask that the city council come together and discuss this again and reverse their decision.”

The city council is still waiting to schedule a telephone conference with the state.