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Union Supervisor Arrested at Landfill

September 16, 1993|JEFF McDONALD | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

An employee of the county's largest union was placed under citizen's arrest Wednesday afternoon by Bailard Landfill managers, who told sheriff's deputies that the woman was trespassing, authorities said.

Ellyn S. Edwards, a supervisor of the Service Employees International Union, Local 998, was booked into Ventura County Jail on suspicion of trespassing after Clinton Whitney complained that she refused to follow established visiting procedures.

According to Whitney, general manager of the Ventura Regional Sanitation District, Edwards refused to sign a release before entering the landfill site. She also crumpled a letter to union employees describing the rules that must be followed to enter the site, he said.

"We've had three deaths at this site," Whitney said. "There's dangerous equipment operating there and we cannot have people running around that site at will, whether they're union or not."

But the union's executive director criticized the decision to arrest his employee as a strong-arm tactic aimed at discrediting the union.

"She was doing her job for the union," said Barry Hammitt. "She went down to the Bailard Landfill to meet with some employees, signed in with the site supervisor and went down to the trailer where the employees eat lunch.

"The site supervisor decided to have her arrested," Hammitt continued. "It was probably a direction that came from the general manager's office to push back on the union because we've been protesting."

Hammitt said the arrest stemmed from public criticisms the union has made against Whitney and others in the district, including a sexual harassment claim against a landfill employee and complaints that Whitney is overpaid.

Edwards, 38, was later released on her own promise to appear in court on the misdemeanor charge on Oct. 15, a jail official said.

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