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Way Cleared for Health Workers to Vote on Labor Union Choice

Times Staff Writer

A Superior Court judge has cleared the way for 481 employees from the County Health Services Department to vote on which labor organization they want to represent them in contract talks with the county.

The employees are now represented by the San Diego County Employees Assn., but more than two-thirds of them signed authorization cards asking the Service Employees International Union, Local 102, to represent them.

A contract signed by the county employees group and the county expires Dec. 31. A county ordinance requires a petition to be filed between 240 and 210 days before an existing contract expires, when a union is seeking to represent county workers already represented by a labor organization.

Local 102 officials filed the petition May 5, asking the county to recognize the union as the Health Services’ employees official bargaining unit. The County Employees Assn. attempted to block the petition by arguing that it was filed one day prematurely. An independent hearing officer agreed with the association in a ruling handed down in August.

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Mary Grillo, director of organizing for Local 102, said county officials told her that May 5 represented the cutoff point for the 240th day and the union sued to overturn the hearing officer’s ruling. Superior Court Judge Robert May ruled in Local 102’s favor last week and ordered the election to proceed.

“Local 102 has overwhelming support among the Health Service employees and the employees association knew this. When more than two-thirds of the employees signed the authorization cards, the association had no recourse but to attempt to block the election on a technicality,” said Thomas Tosdal, who represented the union.

Grillo said the signatures on the cards still have to be validated, but she expects an election to be held before the current contract expires in December.


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