Saturday, November 23, 2002

Union reps accuse Patton of `bad faith'

The Associated Press

FRANKFORT - Some labor union leaders are accusing Gov. Paul Patton's administration of "bad faith" for refusing to require thousands of state employees to pay union dues.

The workers are represented on a council created by Mr. Patton to advise him on state employee issues. The council is made up mostly of union officials representing six categories of state employees.

Mandatory dues, a concept once commonly known as a union shop, is now known as "fair share."

Mr. Patton's order creating the council in May 2001 said state employees could voluntarily pay union dues by payroll deduction. It also said no employee "shall be required, coerced or unduly influenced in any manner to join an employee organization."

The union officials walked out of a council meeting Thursday after the state's counsel on labor matters, Jonathan Goldberg of Louisville, said Mr. Patton would not discuss mandatory dues.

The council chairman, David Burtch of the United Auto Workers, said it was "the biggest act of bad faith I've seen in my life."

"We've had a lot of discussion about fair share on ethical and legal grounds," Mr. Burtch told Mr. Goldberg. "Now you're saying we take it off the table or we don't meet any more?"

Mr. Goldberg replied: "That's exactly what I'm saying."

Other states allow mandatory dues, but the Kentucky Constitution would prohibit it, he said.

Another council member, Jerry Vincent of the Teamsters Union, said there will be political consequences if the Democratic administration does not cooperate.

"They need us as much as we need them," he said. "If they don't support labor unions, why should we support them?"

Mike Haydon, deputy secretary of the cabinet, said it's possible the council will be dissolved if the ground rules aren't agreed to. "Our terms are that fair share is not part of the agreement," he said.

State government has 37,000 employees, of which 19,000 are represented on the council.

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