(KCPW News) Democratic Salt Lake County Council Chairman Joe Hatch is proposing an ordinance that would allow county employees to specifically designate a union as their representative through a secret ballot election. The county would then be required to hold discussions with union representatives about personnel issues, like wages and benefits. Hatch says under current law, if union representatives approach the county for negotiations, they can be ignored.
"The employer or the government can sit there and simply ignore that, and when the union representatives comes in and says I want to talk to you about wages, hours, and working conditions on behalf of the employees I represent, the government can say no, I don't want to talk to you, goodbye," he said.
Hatch says his ordinance would only require the union and the county to sit down and talk; it does not create any binding agreements or allow employees to go on strike.
Councilman Hatch says part of the problem now is that the state's two public employee groups, the Utah Public Employees Association and the Utah Alliance of Government Employees, will give the county different opinions. He wants employees to be able to choose specifically who speaks for them.
"When we were putting together our budget, we asked both employee groups if sales tax revenues continue to deteriorate and we have to make additional cuts, which would you prefer, layoffs or wage reductions?" said Hatch. "One group said wage reductions, the other group said layoffs. Well, I'd like to know what the employees think."
Hatch proposed the ordinance three years ago, but didn't get enough support to pass it. He thinks he has enough votes now, and hopes it will gain support from some Republicans on the council.