Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Martin County, Florida: Union shoots self in the foot, takes 8 years to bleed out.

Martin County, Florida, July 2001:

The Public Employees Union representing Martin County clerical and blue collar workers requests and successfully acquires a ruling from the county that allows workers to receive cash payouts instead of taking vacation.   The blue collar county workers request a plan estimated to total $250,000+.  The county administrators push for a cheaper plan to cost $100,000+.  The county workers and the union win and so begin the payouts, known as Paid Time Off [PTO] payouts.

Martin County, Florida, March 2007:

Blue collar workers vote to switch to Teamsters Local 769.

Martin County, Florida, October 2009:

Turns out, the PTO payments cost dramatically more than estimated— like a quarter of a million dollars in 2006 and 2007, but about half a million dollars in the last two years– more than $1.5 million total.  Despite having originally requested a cheaper payout, the biggest recipients were the highest paid workers in the county; blue collar workers payouts pale in comparison.  In fact, Acting Martin County Administrator Taryn Kryzda [salary: $146,982] received more than 33K in the last 4 years. Her husband Kevin Kryzda, Chief Information Officer, received more than 41K.  Ms. Kryzda complained to the local paper that it was unfair to criticize her and a handful of other top employees for taking advantage of the rule, and argues that she thinks that the PTO must be eliminated.  It is her job to prepare the budget every year.  The announcements comes after unionized workers were fired this year and after administrators had received their payouts for FY 2009.

This includes the job of the Teamsters shop steward Mavis Curley, logistics coordinator.  With a salary of $32,000, she made less than the payouts and is now fighting to get her job back claiming that she was retaliated against for her union activities.  She was pushing for a new Teamsters contract that included no wage increases, but no lay offs.  To make matters worse, Kryzda publicly supported the “elimination of her position,” before the magnitude of the payouts was made public.

So a union rule  in 2001 gets union workers fired, brings a county’s finances to its knees, and get county leaders [who opposed expensive PTOs in 2001] lots of cash–legally. Not sure if this will get Curley back her job, but it makes for great irony.

Categories: Center for Union FactsEFACNewsTeamsters