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Union May Consider Strike Vote in Labor Dispute : Compton Accuses Workers of Sickout

February 09, 1986|WILLIAM NOTTINGHAM | Times Staff Writer

COMPTON — Several departments of city government were left virtually unstaffed for a day last week when about 55 clerical and technical workers--members of an employees' union deadlocked in contract negotiations--staged what Assistant City Manager Howard Caldwell described as "a minor sickout."

Caldwell said the Monday absences "had no impact on City Hall operations" and that by Tuesday all of the workers had returned. Each was required to verify that he or she had been ill by presenting a doctor's note to their supervisor, he said. "If in fact the employees who were requested to turn in sick slips do not, they will not be compensated." But Caldwell said city officials plan no action beyond that.

Yvonne K. Day, a city administrative assistant who is president of the 60-member Compton Local 347 of the Service Employees International Union, declined to confirm that the union had orchestrated a "sickout." But she complained that "the city is not bargaining in good faith" and has not since the union's last contract expired in July. She said union members might soon consider voting to strike.

"We're at a stalemate," Day said. "There is nothing on the board that we can say is impressive at this time. We are at a complete impasse."

Union Members 'Fed Up'

Union members "are fed up with the fact that management doesn't give a darn about their predicament," Day said, "and we're the people who put out the work" in City Hall.

Day said that, among other things, city negotiators want union members to accept compensatory time off instead of overtime pay for the first 240 extra hours they work during the course of a new contract. Union negotiator Bob Hunt said the provision would effectively mean that "our union members would never see any cash for overtime."

City negotiator Michael Heriot could not be reached for comment.

Hunt said "some sign of progress" appeared on Monday when Heriot contacted union leaders and agreed to have an arbitrator review the contract negotiations. "We also agreed to try to resolve it without having to use an arbitrator," Hunt said, because that process can sometimes be lengthy.

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