Baltimore County union vote stalled Budget cut cited for lack of action

February 09, 1993|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Staff Writer

A state budget cut of $100,000 has stymied an AFL-CIO affiliated union's attempt to wrest from an older county labor group the right to represent 1,800 Baltimore County white-collar workers.

The money funded the Department of Licensing and Regulation's mediation and conciliation service. Without the service, the department no longer is able to run union elections, said Henry Koellein Jr., commissioner of labor and industry.

"We've been cut from 247 to 177 employees," he said. "I have no way to conduct an election."

With the election delayed indefinitely, the Baltimore County Classified Employees Association, which has 715 white-collar members, and the Baltimore County Federation of Public Employees, AFL-CIO, have taken to firing charges and counter-charges. Though the challenging union, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, has sued in Circuit Court to force an election, no hearing date has been set.

Mr. Koellein, who said no other union elections have come up since the budget was cut, suggested the county unions contact the American Arbitration Association for help.

"I'm sorry," he said. "I've done all I can do."

Melvin Driban, the new union's organizer, says the classified employees group and County Executive Roger B. Hayden's administration conspired to keep his union out of power. He charged that with hundreds of county employees due to be laid off late this week, the county wants the old group in power because it is less aggressive.

He also said his union is planning to study the county's budget to see if layoffs are really needed. The other union has not taken that step, he said.

"We've never acquiesced to layoffs," said Mr. Driban, who accused the classified employees group of letting Mr. Hayden co-opt the group.

Morris W. Barrett 3rd, president of the union, denied those charges. He said his group, a chapter of the Maryland Classified Employees Association, is more active than many other county labor groups and is no patsy for the Hayden administration.

"We've probably had more demonstrations and picketing than anybody," he said.

County Labor Commissioner Arthur K. Davis, who Mr. Driban and Mr. Koellein said could schedule the election, also denied collusion and said he cannot run the election.

"I have no authority to do that," he said. "My goal has always been absolute neutrality."

Mr. Davis said he has tried to get the two unions to cooperate in scheduling an election, but without success. Mr. Barrett said he's not satisfied that the required 30 percent of the 1,800 white-collar county workers have signed cards asking for new representation, as required for an election. He wants to review the cards, even though Mr. Koellein already has done so and issued an Oct. 29, 1992, letter stating that Mr. Driban's union qualifies for an election.

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