Accusations of Bad Faith Bargaining Fly in Mediation between Union and Johnston
Johnston has filed a lawsuit against the union that represents many town workers claiming it negotiated in bad faith bargaining after contract talks failed to produce any result. The lawsuit asks that the judge overseeing the case block the union from going into mediation and stop the state Department of Labor and Training from appointing a mediator to oversee the process.
The lawsuit names Rhode Island Council 94, Local 1491 of the American Federal of State County, and Municipal Employees.
The lawsuit came just two days after Governor Gina Raimondo signed a union-supported collective bargaining bill. That bill faced opposition from the town’s mayor, Joseph Polisena.
The union, which includes about 70 clerical workers, dispatchers, maintenance workers, public works staff and others in the town of Johnston began meeting with town officials about a new contract in March. However, the town proposed changing the type of health insurance available to employees and the union put up a fight.
Union negotiators announced in April they wouldn’t take the healthcare proposal to their members. The town called that a “bad faith negotiating tactic.” By the end of the month the union had filed for mediation. The town called the request for mediation premature and stated it wanted to “… bargain in good faith and we hope that the lawsuit will act as a catalyst to continuing good-faith bargaining.”
The union called for the mayor to “cease and desist bad faith, direct dealing, coercion, and union busting” and said the mayor “abruptly walked away from negotiations” after just three sessions and “engaged in a continued campaign of hostile behavior/communications to our members in an effort to intimidate, coerce, and break the union.”
There is no official date for the start of mediation.