Logan County Commission employees vote and approve the workforce representation of the United Mine Workers of America in collective bargaining for a contract. Logan County Clerk John Turner (left) opens the ballot box to count the votes. UMWA Representative Chad Francis, Comission President Diana Barnette and Sharon Robinette the Deputy County Clerk.
AM Stone | WVOW News
LOGAN Employees of the Logan County Commission voted and approved the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) union to represent them.
On Thursday, November seventeenth, the Logan County Commission employees overwhelmingly voted in favor UMWA representation in the workplace and to collectively bargain an employee contract.
The final vote tally was 15-6 in approval. Six challenged ballots were also cast as there was some dispute in the days leading up to the vote on what constituted an employee of the commission. Employees with salaries reimbursed to the commission by other agencies were not permitted vote. Only direct employees of the commission could vote and the six challenged ballots ultimately didn't count since the “yes” votes had a clear majority.
“They’ve always a had a voice in the workplace, They didn’t need a union to have a voice in the workplace.” - Commission President Diana Barnette
A representative of the UMWA Chad Francis told WVOW News the union is happy to welcome the commission’s employees as the newest members.
“We’re happy they had a fair vote today, a fair election, and we’re happy they have a voice in the workplace now,” Francis told WVOW New following the ballot count at the commission office in downtown Logan.
Commission President Diana Barnette was present for the vote count, and she said the employees have always been heard.
“They’ve always a had a voice in the workplace,” President Barnette said. “They didn’t need a union to have a voice in the workplace.”
Tabled from a county commission meeting at the end of October, commissioners were once again discussing a vote by employees to organize during the Wednesday, November eighth meeting.
Francis was there representing the UMWA and read a statement to commissioners.
“The employees of the Logan County West Virginia Commission are not asking for special treatment,” Francis told commissioners. “They’re asking for the right to vote. The right to have a say in matters that directly affect them. They are asking for the opportunity to collectively bargain to negotiate for what we believe is fair and just.”
Francis provided commissioners with a resolution in support of the employees’ efforts. Commission President Barnette made clear she did not agree with the move.
“I respectfully decline to sign the resolution,” Barnette said. “I don’t see how you need my blessing. You can form a union. You can vote. I don’t understand the whole situation as to why I have to give you my blessing to do what you have the right to do anyway.”
President Barnette said she appreciated the notice that employees intended to vote on the UMWA representation but compared the resolution to one of her children asking permission to smoke.
“I’m going to say no,” Barnette said. “If you smoke, you’re going to smoke without my blessing. That’s the way I feel about this.”
None of the commissioners signed the resolution. Commissioner Billy Jack Dickerson said he agreed with Barnette.
“Whatever you guys decide to do,” Dickerson said from the commissioner deist, “That’s an adult issue and we’ll act accordingly. My sentiments are the same as President Barnette.”
Commissioner Godby shared a conversation he had with the commission’s counsel, Logan County Prosecuting Attorney David Wandling.
“He said that you did not have to have our blessing to vote. I’m for whatever you want to do as far as voting. You can vote however you want, but I don’t think me signing my name is going to have an effect upon it. You have my blessing for whatever you want to do,” Godby said.
According to the resolution the commissioners did not sign, the United States Constitution and West Virginia both support the right of West Virginia county employees to join a union. t
International President Cecil E. Roberts provided comment in a press release Friday following the vote. “Their decision places them on a path toward enhanced job security and the fair representation they deserve on the job.”
Logan County Clerk John Turner conducted the election in two sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, on Thursday, November sixteenth and one hundred percent of eligible employees voted.
Collective bargaining for a contract isn’t expected to begin until after Thanksgiving.
PHOTOS | AM Stone