The LuLac Edition #2200, September 18th, 2012
THE UNIONS' OWN WORST ENEMY
We’ve written here many times about the Luzerne County worker. There is no doubt some have sweet jobs with big salaries they usually don’t earn. But for the most part, most of the Luzerne County employees earn their money and do their job. But because of the mess this County is in financially there will be job cuts. Because the workers are County employees, even the smallest incident will usually lead to a bad perception. Those small perceptions become reality. For example if an office is not staffed intelligently or closes during lunch time, that’s a pretty bad indictment on all workers. Personally, I think the county rank and file workers have the intelligence and common sense to police themselves and make sure they are not lumped into the bad apples. But my sources are telling me that the Union Leadership is not serving any of the County workers well. As an example, County unions were contacted and asked for input. The Court professional union has agreed in principal to some give backs. Example, no pay raise for next year, give up one paid holiday, clothing allowance and no sell back of unused vacation .....a use it or lose it type situation. But, AFSCME’s Union Representative is more concerned about getting on TV instead of taking care of her membership. Other than that, according to people I’ve spoken to, she has done nothing to speak of. AFSCME members in the various departments have not had real meetings to discuss compromises and members are upset that union leadership is not taking the opportunity to work with management in an effort to save jobs. There is a rumor of de-certification because the union leadership does not seem to care, especially since union officers have super seniority and will be the lasts ones to go. That presents a problem within the court system because there is no such thing as seniority and the State Supreme Court has set it to writing that although Commissioners have the right to negotiate salary and benefits, they have no authority to take the operational authority away from the courts. All court employees are "at will" employees. They work according to the needs of the court. The state constitution is clear that the Courts run the Courts period. This will prove interesting as the AFSCME leadership continues down the road of "who cares". Clearly county workers are concerned. IT would be ironic that the people who are put in leadership roles to protect the rank and file are lighting a flame under certain individuals in the county who would only be too happy to start a move to decertify the union. Bob Lawton is the guy that can do this. He can get allies because I sense his patience is being tested by what he sees in County offices. It is no accident that Carolee Medico Olenginski was fired. Lawton gave her a warning. And now she’s gone. Plus he knew there had to be a lawsuit coming because Carolee is nothing if not litigious. I’m not saying Lawton or any Council member is going to go the “decertify” route, but the Union heads aren’t giving him any reason to believe that they are on the side of the County, or even their own workers who want input. Lawton is a dangerous man to play with. By the time his tenure here is over, he might have gained the nickname “One and done”. (One warning and then you get Caroleed). And the people who will pay will be the County Rank and File making under 30 grand while the head honchos will stay.
MORELLI’S LETTERCounty Council member Rick Morelli recently sent an e mail regarding the Tax Collector issue. Here it is:
Dear Luzerne County Tax Collector, As you maybe aware, the issue of whether to continue to use the Luzerne County Tax Collectors in the future to collect the county taxes has come up for debate. Certain members of Luzerne County Council have recently brought forth this issue as to whether to keep the Luzerne County Tax Collectors collecting the county taxes or to obtain an outside firm to collect the county taxes. On August 28th we on Luzerne County Council were given a brief overview by Jackson Twp Tax Collector Jackie Latosick and her husband. It was agreed upon at that meeting that both county council and the tax collectors need to have a separate meeting to discuss the issue in more length. At our council meeting on September 11th in Hazleton, Pa. I publicly asked when this meeting with the tax collectors would take place. It was stated by some council members that no meeting was now necessary and that the county should proceed with putting out RFP's in order to find a firm to collect the taxes. I publicly made a motion to set a meeting up with you the tax collectors so that you could have a voice on this matter along with working with us on council to help find ways to save the taxpayers money. The motion I made died with NO other council member even seconding it for a vote. I feel that this issue is a very important issue and the only way for us on council to come up with a right decision is to make sure that we have all the facts. I do believe that we need to hear your side of the story and find out more from you as to what we can do to save county tax dollars. I am open to all options at this point and have not made any decisions regarding this matter. I am however very much in favor of having you the tax collectors come before council at a special meeting to discuss your role and how we together can find ways to save more money along with collecting more taxes. If you agree that your voices need to be heard on this matter then I urge you to contact the other members of council and demand a public special meeting with us to discuss this matter in more detail. I appreciate your time and hope that we can work together in finding ways to help save the county tax dollars.
Luzerne County Council Member