Dear Anonymous. Thank you for your November 8, 2007, response to our update on the union activities. (see below for actual letter) You have asked some interesting questions, and we appreciate the opportunity to respond and clarify. We understand that you put your “memo” in the in boxes of many of the staff at the AGO.
#1 (why are you anonymous?) People fear losing their jobs, plain and simple. You obviously understand the value and necessity of anonymity, as your memo is also anonymous (and typewritten!)
#2 (didn't BMS reject the cards?) No! If you read the update closely you will see that the cards were not rejected by the Bureau of Mediation Services (BMS). In fact, the BMS was prepared to certify our group as a bargaining unit. All that was needed was an official list from Ms. Swanson of the non-managerial attorneys in the office. Lori refused to provide even that information, and the BMS could therefore not proceed any further. Please keep in mind that we chose to pursue a voluntary recognition route, meaning we obtained cards from a majority of the attorneys in the office, and asked Lori to meet and confer with us on the terms of our working conditions. We chose this process because we wanted to work cooperatively with the Attorney General. It is Lori’s refusal to recognize the will of her staff that has put us in the position of petitioning the BMS for recognition.
#3 (why cards are locked up? what good is 30% if 50% didn't work?) We keep union cards under lock and key because that is what we promised to do. We keep our promises, unlike Ms. Swanson, who promised to support labor when she was endorsed by the unions. Presenting a petition supported by cards from at least 30% of the attorneys in the office will do two things.
- First, it will force the issue of recognition and meet/confer. Once the petition is presented, the BMS is obligated to seek a response from Ms. Swanson. If she challenges the petition, a mediator is brought in to try and resolve the differences.
- Second, the petition will be a first step toward a law change to PELRA that would allow us to meet and negotiate the terms of our employment
#4. (Hatch is gone, so aren't the problems?) If you read the update closely, you will note that the departure of the prior attorney general may have lessened some of the tension in the office, but it certainly did not solve the problems. In fact, the departure of numerous attorneys after his resignation illustrates the continued problems in the office.
#5 (leaders?) While some staff involved in the organizing effort have left the office (both voluntarily, and not), many remain and continue to work hard to better the working conditions of everyone in the office.
#6 (who got a raise and why?) We are glad you raised the issue of compensation. In fact, we are aware of many staff who received either no raise at all, or only meager raises. There has been no mechanism for salary increases, no consistency, and no fairness to the process. We recently saw the results of a request (not by us) for a list of all employees in the AGO and their salaries. We were shocked and saddened at the disparity in salaries among similarly situated employees in the office. This information only deepened our commitment to fight for and obtain fair and transparent processes in the AGO.
#7 (support worker email?) We are not privy to the email you mention and invite comment on this blog. And yes, anonymous is ok.
#8 (change to PELRA?) A petition is a first step toward a law change. Further, everyone knows laws aren’t changed overnight. We would like to meet and confer with Ms. Swanson on terms of our working conditions in the interim period before the law is changed, and we expect it will be.
#9 (and what about the AFSCME letter?) We are glad you brought this up! You are correct that a letter was mysteriously circulated to the offices of many of the attorneys in the AGO in April of this year. However, you fail to mention that only the first page of the letter was distributed. Had the complete letter been circulated, you would have seen the conclusion that stated that nothing in the law prevents us from organizing and asking to meet and confer with the AG.
#10 (are you Matt Entenza?) This question is sad and embarrassing... and way off base.