Borough to Face Unfair Labor Charges
Updated: May 20, 2020
WHITEHALL - The Borough of Mount Pocono is about to be hit with unfair labor charges from the Teamsters.
Among other things, the charges include the sudden firing of zoning officer Dennis Noonan.
That firing, publicly pushed by the mayor and council president Claudette Williams, soon after the council unanimously reappointed him, and at the first meeting after he signed a union organization card.
“We have directed our attorney to file charges,” Matt Weidman, Business Agent for the union, told The Boro* in a telephone interview.
Based on the “testimony and evidence of multiple Borough employees,” Weidman said, “it is the position of the union that the Borough has violated multiple labor laws.”
Retaliation & Harassment Claims
The Boro* has learned that the charges will include claims that the Noonan firing was retaliation for his union activity. Noonan was fired without warning at the March 2, 2020 meeting of the council. That was eight weeks after the council unanimously reappointed him, and the first council meeting after the union asked for an election.
Other charges the union purportedly will assert include harassment of, and personnel action against, Noonan’s wife, the borough’s long-time Borough Secretary and Treasurer. The Teamsters purportedly will assert that conduct was part of the retaliation against Noonan.
According to the union’s February petition seeking an election, they sought to represent all “road maintenance, maintenance, administrative assistant, and zoning/code enforcement officer employees of Mount Pocono Borough.” That petition is a separate proceeding from the upcoming labor law complaint.
Every Borough Employee Asked for Union
Under applicable laws, only 30% of a proposed bargaining unit need to sign union cards to entitled employees to an election.
Weidman, who first joined the teamsters in 1998 as a guard at the Monroe County jail, now serves as an organizer for the local, said that “a super-majority” of Borough employees signed union cards on or before February 5.
Multiple other sources have confirmed to The Boro* that every Borough employee in the union’s proposed collective bargaining unit actually signed a card.
Weidman said that the primary interest of most public employees is job security – “there is a strong concern of not wanting to be an at-will employee and becoming a ‘just-cause’ employee.”
Weidman said that employees of public bodies have particular job security concerns because elected officials change and public finances are dependent on tax revenues, and therefore limited. Public sector employees are sensitive to the budgetary constrictions of municipalities, Weidman says, and often are simply looking for assurances of the status quo.
Borough Employees Cite Benefit Reductions, Years of No Increases
The Boro* has learned that Mount Pocono employees initiated contact with Local 773, which also represents employees in Coolbaugh, Pocono, and Tobyhanna Townships, as well as the Pocono Township police.
The Borough employees sought union representation after council again failed to give them even cost of living increases for several years and proceeded to work on eliminating, reducing, or changing their benefits. They also feel they need protection from losing their jobs because of changes in elected officials, or their attitudes.
Because the union's request to the mayor for an election was not granted, the Teamsters filed a petition on February 10 with the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board to compel an election.
A hearing on the petition was originally scheduled for late April, but was subsequently postponed indefinitely, due to the coronavirus shutdown. No new date has been set.