Town of Suffield and Teamsters Local 559
When considering whether a new collective bargaining unit is appropriate, the Board of Labor Relations may consider: 1.) community of interest; 2.) the administrative burden on the employer; and 3.) workers' desires. Teamsters Local 559 filed a petition to carve up a bargaining unit and to serve as the exclusive representative of eight dispatchers who receive emergency and non-emergency calls, for police, fire and medical services. The Town of Suffield objected. "Normally the Board would be reluctant to allow the carving out or splintering of a relatively small group from an otherwise appropriate bargaining unit, pursuant to City of Norwich, a 1973 decision. The eight dispatchers maintain certifications in National Crime Information Center, Connecticut On-Line Law Enforcement Communications teleprocessing, emergency medical response, emergency medical dispatch and hazmat. Because their workweek and shifts are substantially different from those of other individuals currently in the bargaining unit, and they work on holidays and in excess of regular work schedules, the bargaining contract provides them with a separate pay scale and work schedule. The other individuals work during normal business hours and do not require specialized training. There is "something sufficiently unique about the type, condition, nature, or location of the work of the petitioning employees to give them separate status," pursuant to City of Hartford, a 1986 decision. The union proved a "community of interest" exists, because the dispatchers have unique work schedules, specialized training and a single location. The municipality objected that the addition of another bargaining unit could burden human resources. The mere existence of other bargaining units should not abrogate employee rights, when a clear, natural boundary exists for the proposed bargaining unit. The employees, who are a minority in the current bargaining unit of 25 employees, seek to change the framework to negotiate wages, hours and conditions of employment. At an election by secret ballot on April 18, 2013, the employees voted 6-1 in favor. The Board of Labor Relations dismissed the municipality's objections and certified Teamsters Local 559 as the exclusive representative for dispatchers, for the purposes of collective bargaining on wages, hours and conditions of employment.