Airport employees' bargaining request denied by Assembly

Posted: Wednesday, June 09, 2010

The Assembly has decided to uphold the Personnel Board's decision to deny a group of airport airfield maintenance and operation employees definition as a separate bargaining unit.

The group, via a petition filed by the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 302, argued that the airport is administratively separate from other parts of the city, is different due to airport safety and security issues, requires specialized training and that the group of employees is different enough to have been previously recognized as a "community of interest" by the board.

The city's human resources and risk management department argued that a community of interest is not the same as a bargaining unit under city code, that treating the two classifications as the same would result in unnecessary fragmentation of city employees, and that the group was in many ways similar to other city workers.

The Assembly's draft decision cites the Labor Relations Code, which requires that bargaining units be "as large as is reasonable and unnecessary fragmentation shall be avoided."

There are 22 positions, 14 of which are year-round, 8 are seasonal and several are vacant, in airfield maintenance and operation, according to the board's findings.

To grant the group's request "would result in a small unit with significantly less bargaining power than the larger unit that already exists and includes the same position classifications, and creates an undue burden on the CBJ given the time and expense associated with contract negotiations and management for a like group of workers," according to the board's decision.

City general government has three bargaining units: for general government employees - which the group opted out of in 2008 - police, and firefighters. Bartlett Regional Hospital also has a bargaining unit.

The union objected to the Assembly's draft decision in a written filing prior to Monday's meeting and final decision, saying that while the fact-finding of the Personnel Board may be accurate, "applicable law compelled a conclusion contrary to that reached by the personnel board."

The union has 30 days from the date the decision is distributed to decide whether or not to appeal to the Juneau Superior Court.

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