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Corrections Officers Fight for Union Break-up

October 03, 2001
By: Nicholas Rummell
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - In an attempt to break up union control, more than 60 percent of Missouri's state corrections officers filed a petition Wednesday to de-certify their department's union.

This comes after months of debate concerning the issue of Gov. Bob Holden's executive order in June that allows unions to seek approval to collect fees from non-union state government workers.

Approximately only 20 percent of Missouri correction officers belong to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union.

It is the "fair share fees," said the Missouri Correction Officers Association, a nonunion organization of 2,300 correction officers, that was one of the motivating factors in filing for AFSCME's de-certification.

Association spokesman Gary Gross said that de-certification was decided on after Holden's executive order.

"I think that the correction officers can represent themselves far better than any union," said Gross, "and accomplish more than any union."

But according to AFSCME chief negotiator Buddy Maupin, the union is not seeking fair share fees. In a bargaining proposal that began Tuesday, fair share fees would not be sought by AFSCME under the duration of their contract, said Maupin.

Gross said, however, that his association will still pursue the petition.

It is the 18 years of non-representation from the union, Gross argued, that is at the heart of the petition, although the issue of fair share fees is still a sticking point for nonunion members.

"I don't trust them," said Gross, who stated that AFSCME has reversed such promises in the past.

The State Board of Mediation will be considering the petition, and an election will eventually be held to determine AFSCME's fate, after a response to the petition is filed.

A 51 percent vote of union members would be needed to decertify the union, said a spokesperson for the board.