Sunday, December 17, 2017
News Roundup

About 25 Madeira Beach employees may vote out union

MADEIRA BEACH — The city's non-administrative employees may decertify their union, opting instead to let the city manager and City Commission decide their future wages and benefits.

Secret ballots mailed out by the Florida Public Employees Relations Commission to the 25 employees represented by the Communications Workers of America are scheduled to be tallied Monday.

The action comes about two years after a change in the City Commission majority resulted in nearly all the city's administrators resigning. Others were fired or had their jobs eliminated.

The following year was characterized by political turmoil as the commission tried to find a new city manager.

After Shane Crawford was hired to manage the city in January 2012, the number of city employees continued to decline as positions were left unfilled, with many permanently removed from the employee roster.

The city now has 65 full- and part-time employees. Of that number, about 25 are represented by the CWA.

Administrators and certain other employees are not eligible, and firefighters are represented by a different union.

Crawford said Tuesday that if a majority of eligible employees vote to decertify the CWA, he plans to immediately begin to restructure both their position descriptions and pay scales.

"I think such a move on the part of the employees not only shows trust and faith in the administration but also in the board of commissioners," Crawford said. "They are looking at the value of the union and seeing that it is possibly not there for them."

He denied reports that he encouraged the decertification effort, but said he is on record as favoring getting rid of the union.

"It wasn't motivated on my part in any way, but I do think not having a union creates a more flexible situation for correcting salary issues,'' he said. "We run a $2 million company, and we should be able to deal with employees as we see fit."

In June 2012, Cheryl Rodde, now Crawford's assistant, filed a petition for a decertification election but withdrew it after she was promoted and was no longer eligible for union membership.

Then in December, two city employees — Heather Lucas, a recently hired building permit technician, and Ken Zongora, public works supervisor who has worked for the city for nearly two decades — petitioned the Florida Public Employees Relations Commission for the decertification election.

The union's actual paid membership is only about four employees, according to the Madeira Beach union representative, Steve Burdick.

Burdick, who is retiring July 1, confirmed that interest in the union has dwindled over the years.

The union was formed in 2003 amid widespread employee distrust and anger with then-City Manager Jim Madden, according to Steve Sarnoff, president of CWA Local 3179.

Sarnoff acknowledged that he expects the union to be voted out of Madeira Beach.

Without a union to represent employees, "there are no guarantees" that employees could not be fired at will, he said. "Madeira Beach has been a real challenge for us. I have heard from employees that they are being threatened with being fired if they did not play along" with the current administration.

Crawford denied making any such threats, and stressed that "no employees will lose their jobs" just because there is no union. His goal is for longtime employees actually to be paid more, he said.

"Having people here for 18 years and topping out at $18 an hour just doesn't seem right," Crawford said.

The city is moving toward outsourcing some of its parks services, but Crawford stressed he has no intentions of outsourcing the city's sanitation service.

Crawford said if employees do decertify their union, he plans to work closely with the Civil Service Commission to develop a new pay scale that would be presented to the City Commission for approval.

Meanwhile, a 3 percent raise for employees negotiated with the CWA last year and scheduled to go into effect Oct. 1, 2012, will be paid retroactively, Crawford said, once the decertification election is complete, whatever the results.

Comments
Massachusetts rolls 100-foot-long joint; McCain likely to miss tax bill vote; Cherokee Nationís fear of losing heritage drives opioid lawsuit; more in U.S. news

Massachusetts rolls 100-foot-long joint; McCain likely to miss tax bill vote; Cherokee Nationís fear of losing heritage drives opioid lawsuit; more in U.S. news

Massachusetts Rolling a fat one ó 100 feet longMarijuana aficionados have rolled a 100-foot-long joint. The effort was led by Boston-based cannabis club and advocacy group Beantown Greentown during an exhibition of pro-marijuana vendors and supporter...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Trump says he isnít considering firing Mueller

Trump says he isnít considering firing Mueller

WASHINGTON ó President Donald Trump said Sunday that he is not considering firing special counsel Robert Mueller even as his administration was again forced to grapple with the growing Russia inquiry that has shadowed the White House for much of his ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Friendly competition

Friendly competition

 
Updated: 1 hour ago
Sudden power outage brings Atlanta airport to a standstill; expected to be restored by midnight

Sudden power outage brings Atlanta airport to a standstill; expected to be restored by midnight

ATLANTA ó A sudden power outage brought the worldís busiest airport to a standstill Sunday, grounding scores of flights in Atlanta just days before the start of the Christmas travel rush. However, authorities said that electricity should be restored ...
Updated: 2 hours ago

More than 300 cruise passengers fall ill with stomach virus

PORT EVERGLADES ó More than 300 passengers on a cruise ship that docked at Port Everglades fell ill with a stomach virus. The Naples Daily News reported that the Royal Caribbean Cruises Limitedís ship Independence docked Saturday in Florida reported ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Birders search for 2 rare whooping cranes in north Florida

Birders search for 2 rare whooping cranes in north Florida

GAINESVILLE ó Two endangered whooping cranes have bird enthusiasts searching all over North Florida for a glimpse of the rare, elusive birds. The Gainesville Sun reported that the Alachua Audubon Society held its Christmas Bird Count on Sunday, and t...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Updated: 2 hours ago
Bucs fans call for Jon Gruden ó why was he fired to begin with?

Bucs fans call for Jon Gruden ó why was he fired to begin with?

TAMPA ó The beers and the "love ya bros" were flowing Saturday night at the Hooters in Tampa. Jon Gruden, who will be inducted into the Bucs Ring of Honor at halftime of tonightís home game against the Falcons, worked the room, greeting family, frien...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Wesley Chapel woman, 28, dies after crashing motorcycle

LUTZ ó A 28-year-old motorcyclist died Sunday after she crashed near Lutz Lake Fern Road and Apian Way, Hillsborough deputies reported.Erica Kristen Rodriguez of Wesley Chapel was riding a Kawasaki motorcycle with a small group of motorcyclists eastb...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Church bombing kills 9 in Pakistan; Couples wed in 1st Australian same-sex marriages; more in world news

Church bombing kills 9 in Pakistan; Couples wed in 1st Australian same-sex marriages; more in world news

PakistanChurch bombing kills at least 9Two suicide bombers attacked a church packed with worshippers Sunday in the southwest city of Quetta, killing at least nine people and injuring at least 35 others, several critically, officials said. The assault...
Updated: 3 hours ago