by Collin Reischman
A ruling by the Administrative Hearing Commission (AHC) reinstated three employees terminated from the St. James Veteran’s Home after ruling that their termination was the result of anti-union bias, according to AFSCME officials.
The ruling comes more than two years after Theresa Bach, Bobby Petty and Velinda Wofford were terminated from St. James for allegedly failing to show up for work. The ruling cited inconsistent application of the “no-call, no-show,” policy at the facility, as well as “extensive facts” as to why these terminations were based on “anti-union bias,” according to the language of the ruling.
All three employees were members and officers of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) 2093 at the time of their termination. Jeff Mazur, Executive Director for AFSCME Council 72 told The Missouri Times the case was “the clearest, most well-documented” case of anti-union bias brought before the AHC in many years.
“It’s more often the exception to the rule, rather than the rule, to have someone terminated or discriminated against for union membership in this state,” Mazur said. “But St. James has a long and sordid history of anti-union activities at that facility, and this ruling should make it clear that trying to intimidate someone or otherwise coerce them strictly for being a union member won’t be tolerated.”
Mazur said in general, state-employee unions are treated fairly and kindly by management throughout the state, but that cases like this highlight the importance of unions even more.
“These are employees who are caring for American Heroes,” Mazur said. “They’ve committed their lives and their careers to caring for these folks, and but for their union, they would still be unemployed.”