Water Protection Employees Vote to Join Union, Despite City Concerns

Employees at the St. Joseph Water Protection facility voted to join the Laborers Local 579 union on Wednesday.

Posted: Dec. 13, 2017 1:59 PM
Updated: Dec. 14, 2017 12:05 PM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Employees at the St. Joseph Water Protection facility voted to join the Laborers Local 579 union on Wednesday.

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Eligible employees cast a secret ballot on the proposal for the Water facility to be represented by the union. An overwhelming 22 voters, out of 30, picked yes on the proposal. 

The workers were previously represented by Service Employees International Union (SEIU), but decided to go a different direction a few years ago.

Local 579 Business Manager, Scott Howell, said employees contacted him over two years ago about joining the union. He said he believes employees felt misrepresented with the SEIU.

"There are definitely issues probably going on. That's basically why we are being called in," Howell said. 

Employees had the opportunity to cast their vote from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., and again from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Water Protection facility.

This vote comes after Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA) said in a press release that the city of St. Joseph "actively worked to obstruct and discourage the vote". 

City Manager Bruce Woody said he felt there was no need for the facility to pay to be represented by a union.

"It's certainly their option one way or another. I would encourage them - I have encouraged them to give it some thought on whether the value for their dollar is a good one or not," Woody said.

Howell said the union will begin negotiating contracts with the city immediately.

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