Frostburg State University Sworn Police Officers have chosen to seek union representation from the Maryland Classified Employees Association, when two votes from a Nov. 14 election were finally opened and counted Thursday, Dec. 20, after two separate challenges to the legitimacy of the ballots.
Thirteen individuals cast ballots back in November. The vote at that point was 6 for representation by American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and 5 for MCEA, with two votes challenged and thus uncounted. The two votes counted Nov. 20 were both for MCEA, making the final vote 7 for MCEA and 6 for AFSCME. No sworn officers voted for "no exclusive" or "status quo" representation.
During last month's election, AFSCME representatives, claiming that two individuals who voted were supervisors and therefore should be excluded, challenged their votes. Since the challenged ballots were of sufficient number potentially to affect the outcome of the election, the State Higher Education Labor Relations Board (SHELRB) asked each party to provide written argument as to whether the ballots of the two individuals should or should not be counted as valid.
AFSCME and MCEA submitted arguments and the university provided additional detail, including a job description of the individuals in question.
Karl Pence, executive director of SHELRB, made the judgment to count the challenged ballots.
"The challenged ballots were cast by two individuals who are rated as University Police Officer IIIs. Three other UPO IIIs were not challenged and their votes were included among the counted ballots," Pence said in a memo dated Nov. 27. "The critical issue is whether the two officers are supervisors. I find that they are not. Although they do perform some of the work associated with shift leaders, they are not given traditional authority which characterizes supervisors; that is, they do not hire, fire, independently discipline (or effectively recommend the same), alter shifts, and so on."
The SHELRB ruling was challenged by AFSCME, but AFSCME later dropped the challenge, paving the way to the opening of the votes on Thursday.
Campus and MCEA representatives will meet to negotiate a Memorandum of Understanding for sworn police officers that will address wages, hours and working conditions at FSU. No date for the initial meeting has been set.
At the election in November, non-exempt employees of FSU also voted in favor of unionizing, choosing AFSCME as their exclusive representative. Out of 232 eligible non-exempt employees, 222 voted in that election, 122 of those votes for AFSCME.
For further information on this release, contact:
Office of News and Media Services
Frostburg State University
101 Braddock Road
Frostburg, MD 21532-2303