Jennifer Grimes

Triplicate staff writer

Unrest caused by Del Norte Countys budget emergency is causing legal friction not only between employees and their bosses, but also between the employees themselves.

These are dark times, said Bob Black, legal counsel for the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors.

Cuts made to employee paychecks by the supervisors to help balance the budget triggered a legal battle from the employee union last week.

This week, a faction comprising 35 percent of county employees dissatisfied with the unions tactics, moved to decertify the union.

The current union board has lost the trust of many of the 327 employees, said Marty Maready, employee of the assessors office and co-leader of the movement to undo the union.

On Tuesday, the group filed a formal petition with the countys employee relations officer Jeannine Galatioto, who is also the countys top administrator and negotiator.

Initially, Galatioto said the petition was valid, but because of the timing deadline for decertification procedures, Black determined its not valid.

We are disappointed that the decertification did not meet the requirements, however, we are not discouraged, Maready said.

The decertification bid, however, is not slowing current union members from challenging county budget-cutting actions.

They say its unfair for the county to balance the budget by reducing employee salaries without first completing the negotiating process.

And though the union has already filed an injunction to stop the countys wage cuts, union representative Jim Smith said two more injunctions will be filed today with the Public Employment Relations Board.

Its a means to tell them we want them back at the negotiating table, Smith said.

The Public Employment Relations Board oversees relations between government employees and their employers.

The union will also file allegations of unfair labor practices in Superior Court, because, they said, they believe the county is encouraging people who want to decertify the union.

Theyre giving them bulletin board space for their petitions and meeting space, as well as letting them use work time to circulate their propaganda, Smith said.

Smith and union board member Norma Williams assert that the leader of the movement to oust the union is Galatiotos daughter, Jo Lynn McKorkle, a county employee.

They asserted she used work time to pass around the petition and was not asked to stop.

Maready denied McKorkle was leading the effort. Galatioto was not available for comment and Black said he has no knowledge of McKorkles involvement.

The lawsuits filed against the county could result in a reversal of the action to decrease employee hours and wages.

The unfair labor practice charges could bring that money back with interest, Smith said.

Black questions whether its legal for the union to file its grievances in court instead of with PERB and will bring that up to the judge when the issue is heard.

The sad thing is all county resources are now devoted to these union issues so other issues like the Mill Creek purchase arent getting the attention they need, Black said.

These legal actions taken by the union are all-time consuming, he added.