By EDWARD HUSAR
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Local 34 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers has been declared the exclusive bargaining agent for 11 employees in the Quincy School District's maintenance shop and will start negotiating on the workers' behalf next week.
The union had filed a letter Nov. 1 with the Quincy School District requesting "voluntary recognition" to represent all maintenance shop employees except supervisors and clerical workers. When the School Board took no action on the matter at a special meeting in early November, the union sought formal recognition from the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board.
Richard Jones, business representative for the IBEW, said the IELRB notified the union on Jan. 7 that its petition to represent the workers had been approved.
"The next step will be to start negotiations for a contract," Jones said.
Jones said the union's first meeting with Quincy School District officials is scheduled for Monday.
Jones was asked how long it might take for the group's first contract to be hammered out.
"I really don't have a clue at this time," Jones said. "Seeing as how the school district has multiple contracts, I would think that it shouldn't be a very lengthy process. At least that's what I'm hoping. But it's yet to be determined. I mean, that's why it's called negotiations."
Jones didn't want to say much else about the negotiating process.
"Negotiations are very sensitive and private matters. So until we do something, I don't really want to say anything," he said. "We look forward to a productive negotiations."
School Board President Bill Daniels acknowledged that Monday's initial bargaining session with Quincy School District personnel will involve at least one School Board member.
He said it's difficult to say how long it might take to work out an agreement with the newly formed unit.
"At this point, I don't know what to expect," he said.
Up until now, maintenance shop workers were considered to be "at will" employees. But now the union will have authority to handle collective bargaining on the employees' behalf.
By law, a majority of employees had to agree to any request to be represented by a bargaining agent. In the letter he initially sent to the school district, Jones said the union had gathered "authorization cards" signed by seven of the 11 employees who would be impacted.
Jones is a candidate for the Quincy School Board in the April 9 elections. At the School Board's special meeting in November, one board member questioned whether there would be a conflict if the union's business representative was elected to the School Board. The board's attorney, Dennis Gorman, said he would look into the matter.
In an interview Wednesday, Gorman said he "advised my client" (the School Board) of his legal interpretation of the situation, but he declined to share his opinion publicly.