Thursday, March 22, 2001

Unionization plan proposed

Patton considering issue, organizer says

The Associated Press

        FRANKFORT — An organizer for the Kentucky AFL-CIO said Gov. Paul Patton is considering issuing an executive order to allow state workers to unionize if they choose.

        Mr. Patton declined on Wednesday to provide specifics or even mention the word “union,”, but acknowledged he is exploring ways to “improve communications” with state government workers.

        Chris Sanders, secretary-treasurer of the state AFL-CIO, said Tuesday Mr. Patton is considering a possible executive order “and we are encouraging him to do anything that can improve the situation to give public-sector workers the right to organize and bargain.”

        The plan Mr. Patton is considering would affect only executive branch employees. It would allow them to hold elections to choose unions to represent them, or they could also choose not to unionize.

        The plan would not apply to public school and university personnel, and employees in the legislative and judicial branches of government.

        If Mr. Patton issues such an order, it is expected to contain a strong no-strike clause, with penalties ranging from fines to dismissal.

        Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, said Tuesday he had heard reports Mr. Patton is considering a possible order.

        But Mr. Williams said, “I don't believe he will do that. I believe he will exercise better judgment.

        “That would be a dangerous trend and it would not be well received as an intervention in the legislative arena,” Mr. Williams said.

        If Mr. Patton takes such action, the state legislature could rescind it in the 2002 General Assembly or it could face a legal challenge, Mr. Williams said.


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