Special District Workers Sue over Cuts Management Won't Discuss Changes, Union Says

Article excerpt

Union employees from the Special School District of St. Louis County challenged in court Friday the school board's decision to cut jobs, reduce wages and restrict personal days off.

Teamsters Local 610 is the bargaining unit for 650 district employees. It filed suit in St. Louis County Circuit Court less than 24 hours after the board agreed to hire private firms for food service and custodial jobs now done by union workers.

George O. Suggs, attorney for Local 610, says the district failed to "meet, confer and discuss" as provided by state labor law.

"They met with us, but they didn't confer and discuss," said Suggs. "When asked what it would take to have them not subcontract, they said: `We don't know. We don't have any authority.'

"The bottom line is they are not willing to meet and discuss a package that would wind up covering all wages and conditions," he said.

District officials and attorneys disagree with that. They contend that over the past month they met and conferred several times with union representatives.

"It was beneficial in my judgment," said Gene McNary, an attorney who represents the board in subcontracting issues. "We made available information so they knew what bids entailed."

In court papers, the union asks the judge to:

Order the district to meet, confer and discuss.

Bar the district from subcontracting any more jobs.

Set aside actions already taken against Local 610 employees, including wage cuts. …