Board to rule on union request

Members of a county trades and crafts union will find out today whether they will be allowed to choose new labor representatives.

The Board of Supervisors will decide whether to move forward an election that would allow the 180 employees in the county trades and crafts unit to choose between the San Luis Obispo County Employees Association and the San Luis Obispo Government Employees Association.

Should the election go forward, trades and crafts members could also opt to have no union representation.

SLOCEA is the current contract negotiator for the workers.

But earlier this year, the group’s members submitted petitions seeking representation instead through SLOGEA. The county’s management representative signed off on the petitions.

SLOCEA appealed to the Board of Supervisors, challenging the validity of the petitions.

The vote to seek a new union brought to the surface a crack in the leadership of SLOCEA, which represents about 1,400 members in five bargaining units.

There has been friction among some members about the way SLOCEA’s leaders handled recent elections and conducted personnel changes within the union’s office.

The disagreement follows the breakup of the county Deputy Sheriffs Association into two unions.

It also comes at a time during which public employee unions are under fire because of public perception that their members are better off than workers in the private sector, as the national and local economies continue to struggle.

SLOCEA will be represented today by San Diego attorney Dennis J. Hayes.