UMWA to Mon County Commission: We’re not going away

SOURCE: The Dominion Post
DATE: June 5, 2024


UMWA to Mon County Commission: We’re not going away

Since talk of potential United Mine Workers of America representation in the county assessor’s office became public in late April, members of the Monongalia County Commission have kept the issue at arm’s length by stating they were unaware of any county employees supporting such activity.

That changed Wednesday.

Amy Guminey, an employee in Assessor Mark Musick’s office, told the commission she represents the employees of the assessor’s office that are requesting UMWA representation.

She did not say how many of the 41 office employees are included in that group.

“Let this serve as notice from the members of the assessor’s office seeking representation from the UMWA that we have voted no confidence in our county commission,” Guminey said, explaining, “You participate in a good-ol’-boys club and are indignant and rude when questioned; or condescending remarks when we try to participate in meetings.”

Guminey’s comments come two weeks after the commission said it need not and would not take any action on a resolution supporting a union vote in the assessor’s office, and that the body doesn’t believe third-party representation is in the best interest of the county or its employees.

Guminey said the commission offers half-truths in terms of cost-of-living raises and employee insurance benefits. Further, she said the commission provided one employee a raise of $7,916 and one “special” employee a raise of $9,499 in March 2022.

Following the meeting, The Dominion Post asked if the raises in question went to County Administrator Rennetta McClure and office manager/grant writer Collene Coon.

While Commission President Sean Sikora said he couldn’t be sure who was being referenced, he said both McClure and Coon did receive significant raises after a statewide comparison of similar positions.

“We have a staff of two and they have been given more responsibilities. I assume that’s what they’re talking about,” Sikora said.

Commissioner Jeff Arnett offered further.

“In Kanawha County, each commissioner has a personal assistant. They have five office staff. The commissioners have brand-new Tahoes to drive,” Arnett said. “Rennetta literally probably does the work of three or four people. We work on a shoestring budget.”

As for COLA raises, the commissioners said it’s the county’s longstanding policy that if an elected official, in this case the assessor, gives some or all of their employees raises in the second half of the year, the commission does not give those employees another increase when considering the following fiscal year’s budget.

“They’re cherry picking, too. Over the last two years through the regular budget process, we have significantly increased employee salaries where the office holder has asked for those increases,” Sikora said.

The commission says it welcomes any examination and comparison of the health insurance benefits offered to county employees.

At the end of the day, the commissioners reaffirmed their position that there is no action required from them for employees to take a union vote at any time, just as there is no requirement the commission honor the outcome of such a vote.

“If they want to have a vote, they can have a vote at any time. They don’t need our permission to do that. That was what was stated in our letter and that’s what was stated all along,” Arnett said.

United Mine Workers of America District 31 Vice President Michael Payton said he believes the commission’s stance is hypocritical considering the county pays dues to be represented by the County Commissioners Association of West Virginia, which lobbies on its behalf.

“To me, in my world, that’s called a union. Everybody else calls it an association … It’s kind of hypocritical when you’re part of an association that lobbies on your behalf and speaks as a third party to then look at your workers and tell them ‘Do as I say and not as I do,’” Payton said, adding, “We’re not going away.”


Written by: Ben Conley