Thursday, June 23, 2011
ADDA Leaders Celebrate Affiliation, Prepare for Agency Shop
By a MetNews Staff Writer
Past and present leaders of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys yesterday celebrated the decision by a majority of its members to align with one of the nation’s largest labor unions as they prepared for their next endeavor of obtaining an “agency shop.”
ADDA President Hyatt Seligman, reached on vacation out of state, heralded the outcome of Tuesday’s ballot count as “ a huge victory for our union, majority rule and freedom of choice.”
Past ADDA president and current board member Steve Ipsen also proclaimed it “a great day for prosecutors” that was “a long time in coming.”
The final tally came in at 133 votes in favor of affiliation with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and 24 opposed.
This “landslide victory,” Seligman said, “gives us the momentum to move forward with a vote on agency shop aided by a powerful and trusted ally with special expertise in this crucial area.”
If approved by a majority of the county’s non-managerial prosecutors, the creation of an agency shop would require all deputy district attorneys who are not already ADDA members to join and pay dues, or pay a fee for opting out.
Ipsen remarked yesterday that “affiliation was an important step, but the most important step is the one we’re about to commence, our agency shop election.”
Both of these issues, he insisted, are “of great importance to the young deputies in the office who are currently underpaid and, at the same time, concerned about whether being a member of the union will hurt their careers.”
Following affiliation, Ipsen said the first of these concerns can be addressed because the county’s newest prosecutors will “have representation, so when we get back to the bargaining table and the economy improves, they will be the first to benefit.”
If agency shop passes. Ipsen added, “it will no longer be dangerous for one to be a member of the union” because every prosecutor in Grades I-IV will be represented by the organization. “Once everyone is represented, we have just eliminated the concern that membership in the ADDA can be the basis of punitive action,” he said.
Ipsen insisted that “what I want, and what everyone on the board wants, is for everyone to join.” He said “we need the view of every deputy DA to be a part of the union,” including, and especially those persons who may not have agreed with the ADDA’s actions in the past.
“We want everyone represented,” Ipsen said, “that’s what makes a healthy union.”
Having everyone’s viewpoint included among the voting members, Ipsen reasoned, would allow the group to “focus on the important workplace issues” which affect them all, such as the office policy which requires prosecutors to pass through metal detectors alongside the public at courthouses and the current exam-based promotion process.
He said he “look[s] forward to that day where we can just focus on doing our job and seeking justice.”
Vice President Marc Debbaudt said he also supports the drive for agency shop, but said he had some concern the outcome affiliation election could jeopardize the as-yet-to-be scheduled agency shop vote.
He said had wanted the agency shop election to be conducted first and had voted against affiliation because he thought some of his colleagues would feel that “being part of a big labor union, even in the nature of the sort of relationship AFSCME offers…may be something they can’t live with”
Debbaudt acknowledged that being part of AFSCME would make it “harder for antiunion animus to break the back of a new union,” and by affiliating, “we can grow stronger and then decide if we can do it on our own, and at least survive until that point.”
He said he “would still like to see us be an independent union,” since he felt “we have clout that we have not tapped yet, and we don’t need to be part of big labor,” although “its nice to have a bodyguard, I guess, while we’re still growing.”
Copyright 2011, Metropolitan News Company