UMWA officials call for meeting with Monongalia County commissioners

Source: W.V. MetroNews

June 12, 2024


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Members of the United Mine Workers of America want to continue their dialog with the Monongalia County Commission on behalf of employees in the county assessor’s office.

UMWA Director of Communications Erin Bates said in recent weeks the back and forth has included questions about pay, benefits, and a perception of favoritism in the assessor’s office. Bates said union representation would allow each side to negotiate a contract that could be implemented to address the issues concerning the employees.

“There’s a lot of he said, she said with the commissioner’s office,” Bates said Wednesday on WAJR’s “Talk of the Town.” “The employees are saying you’re doing this, and the commissioners are saying we’re doing that, and at the end of the day, a contract is going to rectify a lot of those issues.”

According to commissioners, one assessor’s office employee has approached them about questions and clarifications about the wage and benefit system, and they believe those answers have been provided. Based on the information available, beyond favoritism claims, there were no other direct issues that were identified that workers were having a problem with.

“They want someone to come in and help create a fair, just atmosphere in their workplace,” Bates said. “So, for each little gritty issue that the employee might have, they took the time to come to the union to ask for help, and then they obviously believe they need help.”

Bates said union representation would ensure that all workers in the office are treated the same. The negotiations and contract would provide the framework for expectations and a means to litigate disputes for commissioners and workers in the assessor’s office.

“If I’m doing the exact same job as my co-worker and that person and I are working the same amount of hours and doing the same amount of work, there’s no reason that person should be making substantially more than me.”

Commissioners have said verbally and in writing that there is no resolution needed to allow the employees to hold an election for union representation. The commission has continued to tell the workers they have the right to vote and organize.

“But in the exact same breath, they’re saying they won’t recognize the union if the vote is yes,” Bates said. “So at the end of the day, it’s worse than a broken promise because if you aren’t going to recognize the union if they vote “yes,” what’s the point of voting “yes” for a union?”

Commissioner Tom Bloom was a counselor and coach in the Monongalia County Schools system for 32 years and echoed their position during the regular meeting on Wednesday, June 12.

“We’ve made it very clear; the law is clear, and being part of a union, I’m very knowledgeable about this,” Bloom said. “An election can happen at any time; there is no need for any input from the county commissioners.”

UMWA officials are calling for a meeting with commissioners to work on the details of a vote and who employees would actually bargain with if the union is approved by the workers.

Written By: Mike Nolting