Union of the fake
Winter Park’s blue-collar workers vote on unionization despite the city’s union-busting campaign
Published: July 28, 2011
The city has portrayed its actions as merely informational, implying that its own biases are necessary to correct the spin that workers are receiving from AFSCME. “I don’t see it as a campaign – it’s putting out information to make sure that both sides of the discussion are heard,” says Commissioner Tom McMacken.
One of the city’s talking points is that unions drive an “adversarial wedge” between workers and managers. “We’re a very small city,” Howard told Orlando Weekly in May. “It’s unnecessary for [workers] to unionize in order to have a voice.” (The city has promised workers a 2 percent raise this year, but Howard says the decision has nothing to do with the unionization campaign.)
But Don Nixon, a worker at the city’s Magnolia Water Plant and a union proponent, says that contact with decision makers has been virtually nonexistent until AFSCME’s campaign. “I’ve been at the city four years, and I’ve seen more city management in the past two months than I ever have before,” he says.
In the end, the city of Winter Park holds all the cards: It has the authority to impose a contract upon employees – whether they agree to it or not – which is exactly what it did earlier this year to police officers represented by the Teamsters union. Still, to city wastewater technician Andrew Jordan, the effort is better than doing nothing. “At the end of the day, honestly, this is all about stepping up and taking responsibility for ourselves,” he says.
Below is the four-page Frequently Asked Questions letter mailed to blue-collar employees on May 27, 2011.
Below is an abridged version of a PowerPoint presentation given to employees by Winter Park Human Resources manager Mary Greenwood on July 13, 14, and 15. Greenwood's presentation was split up into three days to accommodate all of the 156 workers eligible to vote in the July 28 election.
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