Cleanup for Navy Night to go on as planned in spite of union concerns

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Each year, community service workers through Ironton Municipal Court spend a day or two cutting weeds, mowing the lawn and picking up trash at Ironton's Center Street boat landing, in anticipation of the annual Navy Night service.

But this year, that effort produced some questions from Ironton city workers who asked if municipal court workers should be performing some of these tasks in light of recent city layoffs.

The snafu over who will do what been resolved with the promise of a joint work effort between the city's union workers and the court helpers, according to Ironton Mayor John Elam.

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The city laid off

seven unionized employees

four weeks weeks ago. Most of

the employees were taken from the sanitation, street and water departments.

Joe Johnson, president of the AFSCME Local 771 said the union members expressed concern about court workers cutting grass and weed eating, tasks that fall under union job descriptions.

"There were three people in the union body here eight or 10 years ago who were originally hired to cut the grass like that," Johnson said. "But we've been so short-handed that we have allowed the community service workers to do it just because we were so shorthanded. But when we have people laid off we can't have that. The mayor asked if they (court workers) could pick up debris from the floods and I said that I have no problem with that but they can not cut grass."

Johnson said a union employee will cut grass and perform weed eating tasks and that it is his understanding that the fire department will hose off the concrete area. He said he expected that other tasks such as debris pickup will be performed by the community service workers.

Ironton Municipal Court Judge O. Clark Collins said it is not his intention to get involved in the dispute between city government and the members of the AFSCME union, but he stressed that the cleanup effort has always been a service to the community and to the veterans who are being honored at the Navy Night service.

"We are going to do it," Ironton Municipal Court Judge O. Clark Collins said. "I told the city we want to do it and we will finish the work like we've always done. We're not interfering with the union. We've done this kind of work for 20 years and we've never had a problem with anyone's job. It's Memorial Day. We're not going to let the veterans down. We're doing this for the veterans."

Johnson said the union leaders protested another recent instance when community service workers were brought into the city to cut grass on the Railroad Street traffic islands.

Navy Night committee chairman Jim Adkins said it does not matter to him who performs the work. His only concern is that the riverfront be clean and ready for the annual service.