What's New at Teamsters 320
On August 17, 2017, the DAV Minnesota Chapter 1 Commander and Vice Commander presented Teamsters Local 320 and the Local 320 Member Action Committee (MAC) with a framed print. The print was presented in appreciation for Teamsters Local 320's partnership with DAV and its continued support.
Present from the MAC to accept the print is Local 320 Secretary Treasurer Brian Aldes; Local 320 General Counsel Paula Johnston; David Garibaldi, Three Rivers Parks; Scott Nitti, City of Eagan; and Josh Melgard, State Assistant Public Defender. Not pictured: Gus Froemke and Brett Ohnstad. Absent MAC members: Josh Loahr, Claire Thiele, Megerso Hawiya, Jill Nitke and Mick Kelly.
August 15, 2017
Park Rapids, MN-
On August 14, 2017, Hubbard County Social Services employees overwhelmingly voted to authorize a labor strike if the County administration does not resolve its outstanding issues through state-facilitated mediation.
The negotiators for Hubbard County failed to put forward a consistent contract offer for Social Services employees during two days of mediation.
The vote to strike could affect up to 48 employees in the bargaining unit who are Teamsters Local 320 members.
“The negotiations between Hubbard County and its employees broke down because the employer wasn’t shooting straight with us,” says Brian Aldes, Secretary Treasurer of Teamsters Local 320 and chief spokesperson. “The negotiators for Hubbard County unilaterally changed a tentative agreement hammered out through the mediation process”
The Hubbard County employees will strike only if the County does not provide a complete and coherent contract offer. The strike is not over economic issues, but the integrity of the collective bargaining process.
“No one wants a strike, but the workers in this community have been treated unfairly and unprofessionally,” says Aldes. “These workers just want respect and dignity on the job.”
This week is Probation, Parole and Community Supervision Week. It’s a time to recognize the correctional professionals who are responsible for supervising adult and juvenile offenders in the community. The duties of these men and women are essential to the criminal justice system and public safety, but there have been no presidential proclamations, ceremonies of note, or flag waving to honor these brave officers and personnel. They continue to wear the forgotten badge.
After an offender is convicted, depending on the particular conditions of sentencing, a probation or parole officer is assigned for the purpose of supervising the offender’s conduct in society. According to the American Probation and Parole Association, 4,793,934 Americans are under the supervision of a community corrections program. The Minnesota Department of Corrections lists over 122,000 Minnesota offenders under community supervision. At the state level, 2,446 offenders are supervised for violent crime and 1,534 offenders are supervised for criminal sexual conduct.
Probation and parole officers supervise offenders through an array of methods in the form of home visits and searches, drug testing, counseling and coaching. When combative situations arise, probation and parole officers can use force to disarm or restrain an offender without relying on defense tools such as firearms or tasers. Safety is becoming an increasing concern as more Minnesota counties require probation and parole officers to wear bullet-resistant vests during contact with offenders.
Community supervision is a proven system demonstrated by the continued decline in adult recidivism rates. Probation and parole officers should be treated with the same dignity and respect as other officers or personnel in law enforcement and corrections.
Teamsters Local 320 recently celebrated a victory for probation officers in Itasca County who won the right to just cause and grievance provisions. This is a historic event for county probation officers who were previously at-will employees. Local 320 will continue to press the issues of probation officers at the workplace and throughout the State of Minnesota.
The Local has had another victory in a long battle with Itasca County. After the union organized the Probation Officers in 2014, the County questioned whether it was the true employer of the probation officers. Probation services in Itasca County are provided through a Department of Corrections/County Probation Officer system. The County argued that because of this system it did not believe that it acted as the traditional employer in all respects. The question was submitted to the Bureau of Mediation Services, and after a series of written arguments were submitted, the Local prevailed on that issue.
The parties then entered into negotiations for the first contract. The negotiations were difficult, particularly with regard to just cause and a grievance procedure. Despite the Bureau’s earlier decision, the County still did not agree that it had the authority to negotiate those provisions. The County eventually filed suit, asking the court to determine the scope of its bargaining obligations. A series of procedural motions ensued, landing the case in the Minnesota Court of Appeals. The court issued a decision on June 26, 2017.
The Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s denial of the County’s summary judgment motion, stating that “by seeking declaratory judgment, the county is improperly attempting to circumvent the statutory requirement to execute a written agreement through negotiation or arbitration.” The court stated that the inclusion of just cause and grievance provisions must be resolved through negotiations or arbitration.
The Local is ready to go back to the table or appear in front of an arbitrator. In either case, it will not stop fighting to get the best contract for these members.
“This is a major victory for Minnesota County Probation Officers and will continue to have ramifications throughout the State of Minnesota,” says Brian Aldes, Teamsters Local 320 Secretary-Treasurer and principal officer. “County probation officers do have rights and protections afforded to them under state law and Teamsters will enforce the law!”