NEW PORT RICHEY — About 60 members of the Teamsters union that represents most county workers protested Wednesday in front of the West Pasco Government Center, arguing county officials are using "stalling tactics" as they negotiate an initial contract with the union.
Officials have held four negotiating sessions with the union and have scheduled two more in June. But union negotiator John Sholtes said the county is dragging its feet. Workers voted to join the union in September, and the two sides have yet to make progress on major issues.
He acknowledged the tight budget and said the union's big issue isn't pay. Rather, he said, the union wants seniority protections to prevent favoritism such as giving good jobs to people who happen to be a friend of a friend. "Stuff like that means the world to these workers," he said.
County personnel director Barbara DeSimone said she is focused on the quality of the contract, not on passing one quickly. She suspected the union is upset because it cannot begin collecting dues until a contract is signed. "We're not going to just agree to things just so they can start collecting dues," she said.
Negotiations are scheduled for June 8 and 23. Sholtes said if those sessions are unproductive like previous sessions, he might ask for a special magistrate to help the two sides get past an impasse. The magistrate's recommendation would have to be approved by county commissioners.