Borough Employees Seek Union Representation, Teamsters file Action After Mayor Denies Election
Through a request filed under the Right-to-Know Law, The Boro* has learned that, on February 5 of this year, on behalf of “more than thirty percent” of Borough employees, Teamsters Local 773 asked for a representation election. The request to the mayor was immediately denied, and a petition was filed on February 10 with the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board under the Public Employees Relation Act to compel an election. On February 19, the PLRB ordered the Borough to post the petition. On March 12, the Board set a late April hearing on the petition. Subsequently, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in cancellation of that date. There have been increasing tension between the Council and employees, going back at least to last year, when the council president took to publicly criticizing the performance of employees at council meetings. Then, last summer, the council president introduced a non-agenda proposal to reduce employee benefits, including a 30% reduction in vacation time earned after two years, taking away half of accumulated sick leave, and eliminating health insurance opt-out payments. The council later passed a budget without employee raises for at least the third year in a row, despite a tax increase of almost ten percent. The mayor and council then sought to provide health insurance to themselves and to triple the compensation for elected officials. After receiving the union petition, the counsel in March granted three full time and one part-time employees small raises, passing over all other employees. This caused Council Member Fran O’Boyle to angrily denounce the move as unfair and insulting to the employees. At the same meeting, the mayor and council president fired zoning officer Dennis Noonan. Noonan, husband of 30-year Borough Secretary Lori Noonan, was denied any reason for the move. However, the union petition did include the zoning officer as among the class of employees the union sought to represent.
Absent agreement by the borough to permit the union election, resolution of the petition will need to await the reopening of state agencies to in-person proceedings after the current public health emergency. The borough solicitor declined to comment for this article.