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By Carmen Ensinger
The drama continues with the Greene County Board as the board at the September 8 monthly meeting rejected the contract with the Steelworkers Union, who represents the workers in the courthouse and at the highway department, by a 3-4 vote.
Those voting in favor of the contract were: Chris Elliott, Andrea Schnelten and Regan Joehl. Those voting against the contract were: Board Chairman Mark Strang, Vice Chairman Earlene Castleberry, Joyce Clark and Christie Ford Lake.
Elliott and Schnelten, who were on the negotiating committee for the board, were left stunned because there was no discussion held before the issue went for a vote.
When asked why the four members had a problem with the contract, Lake spoke up and said it had to do with the 40-hour work week. Currently, courthouse workers work 36-hour weeks. Part of the new contract stipulates that all workers will work 40-hours per week, which will cost the county approximately $50,000 the first year and more after that.
Elliott said that it was brought to the board.
“We said we are negotiating the 40-hour work week in the contracts and there was no objection from anyone on the board,” he said. “We cannot legally vote that contract down because we negotiated it and they (Union) ratified it and if we vote that down now we are doing regressive bargaining.”
Castleberry said she just recently learned of the 40-hour work week proposal.
“I never heard anything about that until recently,” she said.
As for the statement that they can’t vote it down, Castleberry said they have that right.
“We don’t have the right to vote down a contract that we already agreed to,” Elliott said.
Castleberry made a very valid point.
Elliott said they never did anything that the board did not know about first hand.
“We never went to one negotiation and said or offered anything that did not come to this table where
The last Union contract ended in January and the county has been in negotiations since then.
“That doesn’t matter now,” he said. “That is not how it works because it passed. Whether it passed by one vote or 15 – it passed. I will tell you, personally, I don’t care if they work 36 or 40 hours, that is not my issue here. My issue here is I feel thrown under the bus.”