Union busting in Pinellas?
Despite how it ended, yesterday's collective bargaining session in Pinellas wasn't all peaches and cream. Things soured for a spell when it became clear that while the district had formally proposed furloughs to two unions, PCTA and PESPA, it had not done the same with the unions representing blue-collar workers and police.
"This is classic union busting, when you put one group against another," PCTA president Kim Black told Steve Swartzel, the district's chief negotiator. "It reeks of that divide and conquer mentality."
"I don't agree that somehow I'm trying to divide and conquer," Swartzel responded. "I'm trying to resolve everything at the same time in the direction I've been given."
Swartzel told the Gradebook this morning that the district hadn't formally proposed furloughs with the other two unions because it simply had not met with them yet. He said it intended to do so, but after recent developments, the need is no longer there.
Asked if the district would have ever proposed furloughs for some employees but not others, Swartzel said, "I see no way that would have happened."
For the record, SEIU is bargaining with the district next week. "We picked a late date to go to the table," said SEIU organizer Rick Brandt. "It was our choice."
Brandt said he expected the district would have formally proposed furloughs for SEIU as well.