Teamsters: Corrections department bargaining agent

The Teamsters union ousted the Police Benevolent Association as the certified bargaining agent for the Florida Department of Corrections employees in election results announced by the Public Employee Relations Commission to Historic City News yesterday.

The PBA, which represented correctional workers for more than three decades, has 15 days to contest the election, but executive director Matt Puckett said that appears unlikely. After the waiting period, the Teamsters will become the official bargaining unit for nearly 19,000 corrections workers.

General President Jim Hoffa, son of the controversial leader of the Teamsters Union, James Riddle Hoffa, who ruled from 1957 to 1971 and has been missing since 1973, told reporters, “Teamsters have a long tradition of providing strong representation to law enforcement officers nationwide, including thousands of corrections officers.”

The labor union has established “Teamsters Local 2011” to solely represent corrections, probation and parole officers of the Florida Department of Corrections.

“We appreciate the value of the work you do for the State of Florida,” Hoffa said. “The Teamsters is committed to the fight to protect your jobs and will provide strong representation and a powerful voice for Florida Department of Corrections officers; both at the bargaining table and in Tallahassee.”

Puckett said the PBA would continue to its involvement in two lawsuits against the state: one challenging the privatization of prisons in South Florida, in which the Legislature has appealed an initial ruling in favor of the union, and one challenging mandatory pension contributions that Teamsters locals also have joined.

Michael Filler, the director of the Teamsters Public Service Division, said the union expects the PBA to prevail in its case, and is gearing up for a legislative battle over privatization, which it will wage in part through local political organizing.

Of 7,391 ballots cast in the election, 4,097 were in favor of the Teamsters, while 3,015 went to the PBA. Other ballots either were voided, went to a “no union” choice, or to the International Union of Police Associations. A new election can be held after one year.

Photo credits: © 2011 Historic City News contributed photograph by FDOT Teamsters

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