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Governor rescinds collective bargaining on 2nd day in office

Posted on Wed, Jan. 12, 2005 
 
Daniels voids collective bargaining
By Niki Kelly
The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS - Gov. Mitch Daniels jerked away the collective bargaining
rights of nearly 25,000 state employees on his second day of work Tuesday.

The move wasn't necessarily surprising - as Daniels had refused to comment
on the issue for weeks - but it did provoke a sour response.

"We thought the new administration was going to try to work with us, but
they chose not to," said Francis "Fuzz" LeMay, president of Unity Team Local
9212. "We're telling employees the union's over."

The Unity Team represents about 15,000 non-professional state employees,
such as correctional officers and transportation workers.

It is one of three unions that had agreements in place with the state
through executive orders signed by previous governors.

Most of the employees affected by Daniels' decision worked at the Family and
Social Services Administration, Indiana Department of Transportation and
Department of Correction.

State law doesn't authorize collective bargaining for state employees.
The practice began with executive orders issued by then-Gov. Evan Bayh in
1989 and have been continued by two subsequent Democratic governors.

Daniels on Tuesday rescinded the orders giving state workers the power to
negotiate benefits, pay and other rules affecting their work environment.
The new governor's order immediately canceled several collective bargaining
agreements that were in place.

The second union affected was the Indiana office of the American Federation
of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents about 8,600 state
employees, including more than 750 at the Fort Wayne State Developmental
Center.

These employees are mostly caseworkers and nurses and direct care workers at
institutions and auditors.

The final union involved was the Indiana Professional Law Enforcement
Association, which represents more than 1,000 state troopers, conservation
officers and excise police officers around the state. This group is a local
charter of the International Union of Police.

Daniels, a Republican, said the agreements would have limited his ability to
make changes in the structure and organization of state government.

For instance, he couldn't have created the new Department of Child Service,
as he did Tuesday, because previous collective bargaining agreements
required him to notify and meet with unions 30 days in advance of any major
department reorganization.

"My principal concern about the status quo is the way it really encumbers
the ability of government to change," said Daniels, calling his decision the
most complicated he has made.

He said the system only existed by fiat of former governors and was
"absolutely inadequate for the challenges we face."

Daniels also intimated that it will be easier to terminate troublesome
employees, like a snowplow driver who has failed multiple drug tests.


David Warrick, executive director of Indiana AFSCME Council 62, said he
doesn't believe union rules protect bad workers.

"We have a fair system," he said. "If you want a system where it's easy for
the boss to get rid of an employee they don't like, then you don't like our
system."

Warrick said he had been fielding calls from upset state employees all day.

"The union is not gone. We were here before Bayh signed the order," he said.
"Obviously this is a setback, but we're still here."

Daniels said state employees will have access to a complaint and hearing
procedure for contested disciplinary actions, and most will be extended the
protections of the State Employees Appeals Commission, an independent panel
of five citizens who hear grievances pertaining to job security and pay
issues.

Daniels said unions can still have a role in the process, including
representing state employees in the grievance procedure. He also has ordered
the State Personnel Department to meet with union leadership on a quarterly
basis.

Warrick expressed concern about that appeals commission, saying before
implementation of collective bargaining rights state workers prevailed in
only 2 percent of all cases heard by the board.

Raises given at the end of Gov. Joe Kernan's term will be honored, said
Daniels, who will also examine performance and merit pay and rewards for
improvement.

Members of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus immediately slammed Daniels
for moving so quickly to get rid of collective bargaining rights.

"Gov. Daniels has spoken long and loud about supporting those hard-working
state employees who dedicate their lives to helping the people of Indiana,
but now it appears that he does not support their efforts to earn a decent
wage and have the right to seek improved health-care benefits," said Rep.
Greg Porter, D-Indianapolis.

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Union breakdown

Gov. Mitch Daniels on Tuesday rescinded collective bargaining rights and
agreements for state employees in the following three unions:

*Indiana AFSCME Council 62 - represents about 8,600 state employees who are
mostly caseworkers, direct care workers in state institutions, corrections
nurses and auditors.

*The Unity Team Local 9212 - represents about 15,000 non-professional state
employees, such as Department of Transportation workers, correctional
officers and some in the Family and Social Services Administration.

*The Indiana Professional Law Enforcement Association Local 1041 -
represents more than 1,000 state troopers, conservation officers and excise
police officers around the state.