Blogger's Note: Former S Whitehall Tp and Lehigh County Comm'r Brad Osborne asks the candidates about union negotiations in South Whitehall Township.
Earlier this year, South Whitehall Township Public Works employees went on strike. The reason? The administration was dead set on contracting out what has always been the work of the employees. They wouldn’t budge in their position. Where were the commissioners in this process? Well, two commissioners were very vocal about being blocked out in setting the guidelines prior to the negotiations. They were drowned out by three commissioners who insisted the board should have no role in the process. In other words, whatever happens, happens. And so it did. The first employee strike in South Whitehall in over thirty years, and the ill-will that comes with it.
Today’s Candidate Question: Should the Board of Commissioners set the guidelines for union contract negotiations?
Christina “Tori” Morgan (R): No response.
Joe Setton (D): No response.
David Kennedy (R): Yes, to the extent that it is supported by the budget. The BOC should have 1 or 2 seats at the table. The negotiating solicitor is speaking on behalf of the BOC while taking direction from the entire BOC. It is the BOC who votes on the final contract and no one else; they speak for the residents.
Monica Hodges (R): Yes. The BOC has final responsibility for approving all union contracts so they must set the guidelines as to what the goals are, and how the negotiations should be managed.
Thomas J. Johns (D): The Board of Commissioners should have the opportunity to participate in union contract negotiations. This responsibility can be vested in a committee of the Board prior to the expiration of the current contractual term. For example, negotiations must be based upon comprehensive knowledge of budgetary constraints and personnel needs. Experiences negotiators well versed in Labor Law would become more effective with this knowledge.