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Pasco County employees reject contract, gear up for new union talks

Members of the union representing rank-and-file Pasco County workers overwhelmingly rejected a proposed collective bargaining agreement with administrators.

The final vote: 366-18 against the contract.

"We just have to go back to the table and resume bargaining," said John Sholtes, representative of Teamsters Local 79. "We hope this vote count sends a message to the Board of County Commissioners that they're out of touch with their own employees."

Personnel director Barbara DeSimone said the county might agree to resume negotiations. But, she said, "most likely we will go back to the board and have them ratify (the contract) and then impose it."

DeSimone said she will discuss the situation with administrators and with the attorney hired to help on union issues. Commissioners won't revisit the issue until after the new year.

Shotles said the county doesn't have the authority to implement the contract because the provisions concerned last fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30.

He said he hopes to re-start negotiations in January.

Commissioners in October sided with administrators on nearly all of a dozen issues that the two sides could not agree on. That included refusing seniority protections when workers face layoffs and declining to give workers a one-time bonus to compensate for years of frozen salaries.

"They just flat out rejected any sort of increases whatsoever," Sholtes said. "And they just refused to honor seniority rights."

Workers voted to form the union in August 2010. More than two years later, the union's contract still isn't approved. The union cannot begin collecting dues until a contract is in place.

Both sides took extra care with the contract because the document will be the basis of each successive agreement.

Lee Logan can be reached at llogan@tampabay.com or (727) 869-6236.

Pasco County employees reject contract, gear up for new union talks 12/06/12 [Last modified: Thursday, December 6, 2012 8:54pm]
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