BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County government workers have chosen to consider unionizing under two separate bargaining units.
That decision, made public after the votes of the mailed ballot were tabulated last week, clears the way for the actual vote for or against organizing under Teamsters Local 79.
The on-site vote for accepting or rejecting the Teamsters has been set for March 3 and 4. Employees of the government center will vote at the Community Activity Center; workers from the Department of Public Works will cast ballots March 3 at their office.
On March 4, utilities workers at the Wiscon Road office will vote; those at the landfill will vote there the same day. After the polling places close at 6 p.m. March 4, all ballots will be counted at the Community Activity Center, and the results will be announced.
The decision to vote separately means that one bargaining unit of 15 professional employees will be voting whether to unionize; later, 522 general employees will vote.
County employees have tried to unionize before but failed. Teamsters business agent John Sholtes and county employees helping with the organizing effort have said they expect a positive vote this time because employees are concerned about job security during the current county budget crisis.
While the county has dealt with revenue shortfalls over the last year, there have been some layoffs, and other positions have not been filled. An early-leave plan for higher-paid staffers will be considered by the County Commission on Tuesday, and additional layoffs may follow.
Sholtes said he was encouraged by the turnout for the first vote.
Of the 320 ballots cast by the nonprofessional group, 282 voted to be a separate unit and 38 voted for combined. Of the seven ballots received from professional workers, four voted for separate and three for a combined unit. It was the outcome supported by the union organizing committee, Sholtes said.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1434.