County supervisors OK election that could allow new representation for union

In a blow to the county’s largest public employee union, the Board of Supervisors Tuesday allowed an election that could clear the way for new labor representation for 180 county workers.

In a unanimous vote Tuesday, the board said the county’s Trades and Crafts unit can go ahead and hold an election to decide who they want to speak for them in bargaining for salaries and benefits.

Trades and Crafts Members had petitioned for the right to such an election early this year, but the organization that currently represents them, the San Luis Obispo County Employees Association, fought the move.

SLOCEA represents approximately 1,400 members in five bargaining units. The county has 2,400 employees. Should Trades and Crafts form a different union it would represent roughly 13 percent of SLOCEA’s current membership.

The board’s decision Tuesday merely clears the way for an election. Trades and Crafts workers could elect to stay in SLCOEA, go to another union that seeks to represent them, the San Luis Obispo Government Employees Association, or opt for no union representation.

Tami Douglas-Schatz, the county’s management representative in labor negotiations as well as its Human Resources Director, said Tuesday that the county is still working out a timeline for the election, but vowed to conduct one “as soon as administratively possible."

SLOCEA fought vigorously against holding an election.