Additional 28 county employees seeking to form union

LACONIA — With a handful of exceptions, the full-time Belknap County employees who are neither members of a union nor heads of departments, have petitioned the Public Employee Labor Relations Board (PELRB) to form a collective bargaining unit represented by the Teamsters Local Union 633 headquartered in Manchester.

Neither Roger Travers, the representative of the Teamsters, nor any county employee was available to comment on the circumstances that led to the decision to organize and petition the PELRB. However, the effort by the Belknap County Convention to strip employees of contractual bonuses and increase their share of health insurance premiums in the last budget cycle in widely believed to have aroused anxiety among non-union employees, whose compensation and benefits mirror those of their colleagues belong to collective bargaining units.

The proposed membership would consist of 28 employees, described as "support staff," from eight different departments. If the effort to organize succeeds, more than 150 of the 169 full-time county employees would belong to collective bargaining units, leaving only those ineligible for union membership — 10 department heads and a handful of mid-level managers at the nursing home — unrepresented. Employees in the Corrections Department, Sheriff's Department and Nursing Home are represented by the State Employees Association (SEA).

The 28 chose to affiliate with the Teamsters because some of them are excluded from the SEA because they supervise employees of the Corrections Department, Sheriff's Department and Nursing Home who are represented by the SEA. The statute governing collective bargaining units among public employees stipulates that "persons exercising supervisory authority involving the significant exercise of discretion may not belong to the same bargaining unit as the employees they supervise."

The collective bargaining unit must be certified by the PELRB. The Belknap County Commission, as the public employer, may challenge the membership of the proposed collective bargaining unit.

The membership would include six employees from the County Attorney's Office — the deputy county attorney, assistant county attorney, legal assistant, victim assistance advocate, legal secretary and office manager. There would be five from the Corrections Department — the deputy superintendent, community corrections officer, program director licensed practical nurse and registered nurse, and administrative assistant — another five from the nursing home — the billing coordinator, medical records coder, nursing unit clerk and administrative assistant. .

The bargaining unit would also include four employees from the Registry of Deeds — the deputy registrar, coding clerk, account clerk and indexing supervisor — and three from the Finance Department — the assistant director, purchasing coordinator and bookkeeper. two of the Sheriff's Department — a lieutenant and administrative assistant The balance of the membership would consist of two custodians and the administrative assistant to the county commission.