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Port of Poulsbo employees move to unionize

POULSBO — Employees of the Port of Poulsbo have begun the process of unionizing.

The state’s Public Employment Relations Commission received a representation petition on April 1 that was submitted by attorney Thomas Leahy of Seattle. Employees petitioned to join Teamsters Local 589, a union with offices in Silverdale and Port Angeles.

Port commissioners met with employees about a month in advance of the move to unionize, according to Commissioner Jim Rutledge.

“We agreed on some changes in the underlying benefits package which is, frankly, very favorable,” Rutledge said.

Rutledge said the commission hasn’t had any communication with employees about work matters outside of that meeting, but noted that he supports the port’s employees.

“I certainly support workers’ rights to unionize and we will participate as a good faith partner in the process,” he said.

Six port employees are proposed to be included in the union. Port Manager Brad Miller would not be a member.

After a petition is submitted to the commission, it will verify that at least 30 percent of the employees are eligible for the union. The commission will then determine if there are any disputes moving forward, such as who is to be included in the union.

If there are no disputes, port employees will vote on the matter. If a majority approves, the employees will join the Teamsters.

A union is an organization which collectively bargains the wages, hours and conditions of employment for a particular group of employees.

What issues, if any, compelled employees to petition to unionize were not immediately known. Phone and email messages were left May 15 at the Teamsters local and Leahy’s office.

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