Lee Co. Sergeants’ Union Scores Victory Over Sheriff Scott
In July of last year, a group of non-union Lee County sergeants filed a petition to hold an election designed to decertify the Lee County Sergeants’ Association and remove the union as their bargaining agent.
Shortly before the actual ballot distribution, Sheriff Scott offered bonuses to non-unionized employees and denied them to union members. The International Union of Police Associations (I.U.P.A.), who represents the Sergeants’ Association, viewed the bonuses as an incentive for the sergeants to vote out the I.U.P.A.
The union maintained that the connection between the bonuses and the election was not only obvious, it was illegal and in August filed charges against the Sheriff with the Florida Public Employees Relations Commission (PERC). In the filing, they objected to the election and accused the Sheriff of committing an unfair labor practice in violation of established labor law.
By last December, a PERC Hearing Officer determined that the Sheriff’s activities were indeed illegal, issuing a recommended order in December. Based on the Hearing Officer’s recommendation, PERC ordered that the 2012 election be voided and a new election be held within 60 to 90 days. The order was sent to Sheriff Scott on January 17, 2013.
In addition, PERC ordered the Sheriff to cease and desist from his unlawful activities. Sheriff Scott was also ordered to pay the I.U.P.A.’s attorney’s fees. In light of a pending new election, he was also ordered to cease and desist from past, current, and future interference with the election. Finally, PERC has ordered the Sheriff to post notices of his unlawful conduct to all bargaining unit members.
Originally chartered in 1979, the International Union of Police Associations, AFL-CIO is the only AFL-CIO chartered labor union that exclusively represents law enforcement officers and other support personnel. An estimated 80,000 law enforcement personnel (one out of every four eligible) represented by the I.U.P.A. are all full time employees of law enforcement agencies ranging from line officers up to first line supervisors as well as civilian employees. The I.U.P.A.’s mission is to protect and advance officers’ wages, benefits and work conditions. Membership includes officers from agencies throughout the United States and in the Caribbean. More information is available at www.iupa.org.