Three units at sheriff’s office vote to become Teamsters

Published 9:43 am Friday, January 27, 2012



Historically, law enforcement agencies that are unionized are represented by the Fraternal Order of Police. But at the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office, that’s about to change.

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The clerks, cooks and sergeants units within the department Wednesday night voted to terminate their representation by the Fraternal Order of Police and apply for membership in the Teamsters Union. The Teamsters already represents Lawrence County 911 dispatchers as well as employees at the clerk of courts, auditors, engineer’s and treasurer’s offices at the courthouse.

“I wasn’t aware they could split,” Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless said. Lawless said he will now need to negotiate two contracts instead of one, as he has in the past.

An employee, who asked not to be identified, said the office’s four clerks voted to switch unions as did two sergeants; one sergeant voted to remain with the FOP. Two cooks did not vote at all. A couple of other eligible people also did not vote.

The employee said the biggest concern is with the county’s health insurance.

“The premium keeps going up,” the employee said.

Greg Kline, Lawrence County deputy auditor, said many county employees who are Teamsters members pay nothing for their health insurance, which is through Central States; 911 employees pay $20 per pay period ($40-$60 a month).

In comparison, county employees covered by the county’s health insurance, United Health, pay a cafeteria plan that offers different deductibles and different plans depending on whether the employee is single or needs a family plan.

Kline said employees on a single plan pay $71.08 to $117.50 a month, depending on the deductible; employees on the family plan pay anywhere from $231.02 to $381.84 a month, again, depending on the deductible the employee chooses.

Lawless said the vote will be certified by the State Employee Relations Boards within 10-15 days.