An investigator for the state Department of Labor Relations has found probable cause to require that the town respond to additional allegations officials failed to bargain in good faith with the town employees’ union.
KINGSTON – An investigator for the state Department of Labor Relations has found probable cause to require that the town respond to additional allegations officials failed to bargain in good faith with the town employees’ union.
The investigator issued her ruling Sept. 5 on 11 additional complaints filed by the Kingston Town Employees Union, headed by former town employee Joe Colby, raising the total to 16.
A different Department of Labor Relations investigator found probable cause to issue a complaint July 16 on the first five counts and dismissed a sixth. At that time, mediation was voluntary.
An expedited hearing on the consolidated complaint before a hearing officer has been ordered by the state between Jan. 1 and March 31. For this type of consolidated complaint, mediation is mandatory, according to written instruction from the state.
The KTEU represents both laborers and clerical employees.
Colby was fired Feb. 20 but continues to represent the union as president.
The allegations cover use of a new paid time off request form without bargaining with the union; retaliating against Colby with complaints about his job performance after union members filed grievances related to probationary status; assigning Colby additional job duties without bargaining the changes; failing to respond to union grievances; and “failing to provide relevant information reasonably necessary for the union to execute its duties.”
Colby referred questions to the union’s legal counsel, James Hykel, and said he believes the residents of Kingston need to be informed of these latest findings. Hykel said the town still has to answer the latest complaint. The next steps are then a pre-hearing conference and producing any further evidence in this case.
Hykel said in addition to having Colby’s suspension and firing rescinded and getting his job back with full back pay, the union is seeking a determination that the town has violated the law and that notice will be given to employees to ensure it won’t happen again.
He said the union also seeks acknowledgement that Town Administrator Tom Calter, by his comments, has interfered with the union’s right to engage in protected activity and represent bargaining unit members.
Rich Massina, legal counsel for the town, released a statement.
"The town will not discuss personnel matters related to town employees but looks forward to a full hearing where it will be allowed to cross examine all witnesses and will have all of our legal arguments fully considered by an independent hearing officer," he said.
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