Teamsters set back in battle with FOP State official rejects objection to election


The Teamsters have been rebuffed in their efforts to represent Anne Arundel County police at the bargaining table by the state labor commissioner, who overruled their objections to a union representation election this month.

The decision by John P. O'Connor means that the union, which lost to the Fraternal Order of Police by three votes Feb. 11, will not be able to challenge the FOP again until next year.

O'Connor, head of the State Mediation Service, ruled that a mix-up that kept one recent police academy graduate from voting was not enough to warrant a second election.

"The election was conducted in a fair and valid manner," O'Connor wrote in a decision issued Monday. "The Teamsters' objection is overruled in its entirety."

In their objection, filed Feb. 14, Teamsters lawyers challenged a voter eligibility list used the day of the election that did not include the names of nine recent police academy graduates. The voter list that had been agreed upon by both unions Jan. 22 included the graduates' names.

One of the graduates was not allowed to vote. Four others were allowed to vote on ballots that could be challenged when the votes were counted later that night. Both unions later agreed to let those votes stand.

John Singleton, the Teamsters' lawyer argued in the union's written objection that the four remaining graduates who did not vote either "believed they were not allowed to vote or [sic] denied the opportunity to vote."

But the remaining eight could have voted, and the vote of the only officer kept from the polls could not have changed the election, O'Connor wrote.

"The State Mediation Service has found that the omission of the eight remaining names from the Feb. 10 eligibility list had no impediment to the exercise of free choice by these officers," he ruled.

FOP President Dennis Howell said he had "expected" the decision.

"I think that the length and the efforts that the parties went to to ensure that the election was fair and impartial was played out and corroborated by O'Connor's decision," Howell said. "Now we can get down to the business at hand, and that is getting Anne Arundel County police officers back in the competitive job market with the surrounding jurisdictions and bring our pay and benefits up with the jurisdictions that surround us."

Singleton said the union will not appeal the ruling.

"I think we've taken our shot and gone pretty much as far as we'll go," he said. "Beating an incumbent is a very difficult thing. I sort of feel an accomplishment in coming so close. But there's always another day."

Pub Date: 2/26/97

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