KY:State hospital workers join union alliance

  1. Business News Tuesday, October 23, 2001

    State hospital workers join union alliance
    By David Goetz
    The Courier-Journal

    as a high ballot turnout, health-care employees chose 594-74 to link with AFSCME. Eight more groups of state workers will vote on representation, though collective bargaining is not currently authorized.

    Health-care workers at three state hospitals have voted to accept representation by the nation's largest public employee union in bargaining talks with the administration of Gov. Paul Patton.

    Another 117 votes favored no representation. Gary Moberly, election director for the Kentucky Labor Cabinet, said 47 more ballots were not counted because the eligibility of senders could not be verified.

    About 1,700 workers, including those at the Hazelwood Intermediate Care Facility and Mental Retardation Center in Louisville, were eligible to vote.

    The 46 percent turnout ''is extremely high in a mail-in ballot,'' said Carolyn Klinglesmith, Kentucky organizing director for AFSCME. ''A lot of people have bad addresses. We had a lot of supporters that never got ballots. A lot of people, if they don't vote in the first few days, just lose it.''

    The balloting, which closed at 9 a.m. yesterday, was the first in a series of elections by nine groups of state employees who will decide in the coming months whether they want unions to represent them, and which unions they prefer.

    Next to vote are the 3,300 corrections, parole and law-enforcement officers (excluding the State Police), whose ballots are due by Nov. 6.

    They have also been orga-nized by AFSCME. Ballots from the ''labor and trades'' group, being organized by the Team-sters, will be counted Nov. 13.

    AFSCME announced yesterday that a fourth group, the state's 5,000 social-services and employment-services workers, filed for representation yesterday and will have ballots mailed to them Nov. 27 for a Dec. 18 election.

    AFSCME has 1.3 million members and is one of the fastest-growing unions in the AFL-CIO. It has been a power in bargaining by executive order and is still winning improvements for federal employees under an order signed by President Kennedy in the early 1960s.

    In May Patton signed an order creating a State Employee Advisory Council and authorizing nonsupervisory state employees to choose labor unions to represent them on it.

    The order, which could be undone by the General Assem-bly, does not allow collective bargaining, though Patton fa-vors it. Nor does it allow state employees to strike because that is forbidden under state law.

    By a vote of 594-74, nurses, aides and other state health workers picked an alliance of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the Service Employees International Union over a rival coalition of unions representing steelworkers, aerospace workers and teachers.
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