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Pasco County workers vote to unionize

Pasco County government employees voted by a narrow margin this week to join the Teamsters union.

The vote was 484-450 to unionize, said Steve Meck, general counsel for the Public Employees Relations Commission. Turnout was heavy in the mail-in balloting that began Sept. 7.

More than 1,000 rank-and-file employees, including parks and recreation workers, building inspectors, probation officers and 911 dispatchers, will be represented in collective bargaining.

Thursday's vote tally came in the wake of layoffs of 43 county workers. The 2010-11 county budget eliminated their jobs, plus several more vacant positions, because of declines in property tax revenue.

Nearly half of those given pink slips were custodians whose jobs are being outsourced. Other jobs lost include a part-time elderly nutrition worker; a County Commission secretary who works at the Dade City courthouse; seven parks and recreation workers; a fire inspector; three library workers; a bus dispatcher; two personnel department employees and a technician.

A permitting manager and four other professional employees lost their jobs, including an engineer; two public transportation workers who handle marketing and Medicaid; and a higher-ranking personnel department employee.

Barbara De Simone, human resources director, said one laid-off person has been rehired in another position and several others are interviewing.

She didn't know the current tally of vacant positions but said the parks department, for one, is hiring for positions that weren't eliminated in the layoff. That could be a landing spot for some people who lost their jobs.

"I'm expecting a few more" to be rehired, she said.

Laid-off workers are still on the job until Friday.

"We're trying not to have a break in service," De Simone said. "That's the goal."

In a news release, the Teamsters said they welcome Pasco's workers to Local 79.

"Now we will work hard to negotiate a contract that will provide the Pasco County workers with the brighter future they deserve," Ken Wood, Local 79 president and international vice president, said in the release.

Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million workers in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

Pasco County workers vote to unionize 10/01/10 [Last modified: Friday, October 1, 2010 6:27pm]
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