Thursday, July 17, 2003

Patton agrees state employees can unionize

By Joe Biesk
The Associated Press

FRANKFORT - More than 19,000 state employees would be eligible for the first time to join labor unions under an agreement Gov. Paul Patton signed Wednesday.

Patton met with union representatives at the Capitol to sign a "master agreement" which would form the ground rules for further labor contract negotiations. Six labeled categories of state workers have agreed to allow five different unions to represent them in contract talks. Unions would negotiate with the state on behalf of state employees on such topics as job security, wages and benefits, Patton said.

"I believe that the agreement that we're signing today, the process we have put in place, will better help those front-line employees make sure that the things that concern them are also brought to the attention of the governor and the legislature," Patton said.

State workers would not be required to join a union, Patton said. However, union contracts would cover all state employees working in the six categories, he said.

Employees who work in clerical or semi-technical jobs would be represented by the United Auto Workers, laborers and trades workers by the Teamsters and state police by the Kentucky State Police Professional Association.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees would represent workers in employment and social services, and corrections, parole and other law enforcement officers. Some health services employees would be represented by AFSCME, while others would be represented by the Service Employees International Union.

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