Correction supervisors opt not to switch union leadership

State prison guard supervisors, one of two bargaining units that rejected the 2011 state employee concession package, overwhelmingly rejected an effort to replace the union that has represented them for the last nine years, according to unofficial results.

The bargaining unit, which includes 428 supervisors within the Department of Correction, voted 182-37 to remain with CSEA-SEIU Local 2001, opting not to join the National Correctional Employees Union, the unit’s president and the Department of Labor reported Wednesday

Labor Department spokeswoman Nancy Steffens said voting was conducted at a total of nine different sites over Monday and Tuesday.

The petition effort among some members to join NCEU happened “at a very contentious time,” CSEA-SEIU Local 2001 spokesman Ben Phillips said Tuesday night. “The anger has subsided.”

The local helped organize the correction supervisors for the first time in 2003 and the final vote shows the relationship between workers and union remains strong, he said.

“We were the ones who got them unionized and over the years we’ve been able to win strong contract after strong contract,”Phillips said.

“They’ve always been there for us,” added Chuck Lemelin, a correction supervisor and president of the bargaining unit. “We’ve always had a great relationship. The members still believe in CSEA.”

The executive director of the NCEU, Christopher Murphy, could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.

This week’s election was ordered by the state Board of Labor Relations, which ruled earlier this month that the bargaining unit could vote on whether to switch its affiliation to the Springfield, Mass.-based NCEU.

Petitions were submitted to the labor board last year on behalf of several bargaining units in an effort to change representation. State rules require at least 30 percent of a unit’s members to sign to force a vote.

Besides NCEU’s bid to represent the correction supervisors, the United Public Service Employees Union submitted petitions on behalf of probation officers, judicial marshals and state scientific and engineering workers.

The labor board ruled in early July that unionized state employees closed the window for any changes in representation until August 2016 when they ratified the concession deal last summer.

But because the correction supervisors never ratified the deal, the labor board ruled it could hold a vote.

The correction supervisors unit has been working under a contract that expired in 2011.

Phillips said negotiations with the Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration slowed down as union affiliation issues arose. “We’re looking for to getting those talks started now,” he added.