LEE COUNTY, Fla. - Is it factual information? Or anti-union rhetoric? Those are the questions being raised about a 3-page document that Lee Co. government is e-mailing to its 2,000 employees. The document is supposed to provide facts and information about union organizing.
"I think most of it is okay, but some of it is inaccurate," said Tom O'Malley, president of the Ft. Myers city workers union. "It says that union dues go to pay high salaries. Not so. We have no salary for our board members. It says dues go to fund conventions. Again, not the truth, certainly not for smaller union locals like ours in smaller places, like Lee County. We may have a local seminar once in a long while, but not conventions!"
Jonathon Webb, outgoing president of the Ft. Myers union, says the tone of the document is somewhat different. For example, the county comes right out and says: it desires that workers not sign a union card, and continue to negotiate with management instead. It repeats that anti-union wish a couple of times in the document.
Lee workers are being forced to take un-paid furlough days off, starting Oct. 1. They also will have to pay more money for their insurance. Those developments have led some people to wonder: could the employees be prime to form a union.
Lee Human Resources Director Christine Brady explains: "This grows out of meetings between the county manager and some workers.The people just inquired about the process to form a union. So we put this together. It is factual. It is not rhetoric. We stand behind it."
However, O'Mally has questions."I think it tends to be a bit too pointed in a few areas, and there are those inaccuracies. Otherwise, it's okay. I would hope that people would sift through it and do their own fact-finding," he told WINK News.
Currently, Lee has only one major workers' union. That represents paramedics. Lee Sheriff's deputies voted on a union about a year ago. They voted not to unionize.