Harbormaster resigns amid labor complaints

Union files motion to dismiss complaints of unfair labor practices

Posted: Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Juneau Harbormaster Chuck Wescott resigned Monday amid unfair labor practice complaints by Docks and Harbors Department employees, Port Director John Stone said Tuesday.

Wescott gave Stone a letter of resignation Monday morning. He had been harbormaster for nearly three years, during which time he was responsible for the administration and operations of the docks and harbors facilities.

"I'm just really ready to retire," Wescott said in an interview Tuesday.

Stone will assume harbormaster duties until he finds a replacement. Stone will start recruiting by the end of this week and hopes to have someone in place by the end of April, he said. The salary range for harbormaster is $56,000 to $66,000 a year.

Meanwhile, the Marine Engineers' Beneficial Association, which lodged the unfair labor practice complaints on behalf of its members, filed motions to dismiss them Tuesday, City Clerk Laurie Sica said. The motions must be approved by the Personnel Board, which is scheduled to hold a hearing at 1:30 p.m. today in the Assembly chambers, Sica said.

MEBA Business Agent Ben Goldrich said Wescott's resignation, along with discussions with Docks and Harbors Department management, made it easier to ask for dismissal.

"Chuck did what he had to do I guess," Goldrich said, adding he was not privy to the reasons behind the resignation.

Wescott declined to explain why he resigned. The unfair labor practice complaints, along with changes to the Title 85 ordinance that outlines the authority of Docks and Harbors, were main factors, Stone said.

"In light of all the change we were having, he (Wescott) felt it best to Docks and Harbors and himself that he resign," Stone said.

Stone said he has mixed feelings about Wescott's resignation. While there were "human-relations problems," Wescott made improvements to small boat harbors and enforced rules, Stone said.

Both complaints say Wescott's conduct "constituted an attempt to interfere with, restrain or coerce MEBA members."

One complaint says Wescott reprimanded Docks and Harbors employee Gary Ausec on Nov. 14, 2003, for filing a grievance related to safety concerns.

On Tuesday, Wescott said he verbally reprimanded Ausec for not reporting safety issues, as required under the MEBA contract. MEBA members had not held union-required quarterly safety meetings, and eye wash solvent at one of the department's eye wash stations had expired, Wescott said.

"I did nothing wrong," Wescott said. "I feel very strongly about that."

Ausec said Tuesday that he and other employees would be prepared to comment later this week.

The second complaint said Wescott discussed and distributed proposed changes to the Title 85 ordinance that was a "confidential draft" document at the time. The proposed document was supposed to be kept confidential pending review and refinement by city officials, the complaint says. Further, the complaint claims Wescott made "various disparaging and threatening statements to the effect that MEBA members might lose employment rights if the proposed ordinance was enacted."

Wescott said Tuesday that nobody told him the document was confidential, so he gave it to his office manager to make copies for employees.

"It could affect what was going on with employees, and I wanted them to be aware of it," he said.

Wescott, former co-owner and general manager of Capital Chevrolet, has lived in Juneau for 28 years. He's unsure of his plans, he said.

• Tara Sidor can be reached at tara.sidor@juneauempire.com



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