Our union brother Clyde Smith, who worked at Metro Water Services, died after an extended illness on July 15 in Nashville. Clyde served as the Executive Director of Local 205 before there was an elected president and he also served as the employee representative of the Metro Employee Benefit Board.
Clyde was a knowledgeable and tireless advocate for workers rights and unionism for decades and our sympathies and prayers go out to Clyde’s family during this difficult time.
Some managers in Metro Water Services had instituted a “policy” which said that employees who did not have “accrued time on the books” would not be eligible for overtime work.
Aside from the fact that this violates Civil Service Rules, this policy didn’t actually exist in any rulebook. Once the Union was made aware of the issue, a class-action grievance was filed. In a joint conference attended by Metro Water representatives, Union representatives, and Union Stewards, the issue was resolved at Stage One, with the Department agreeing to cease the practice and be consistent with the CSR, which emphasize seniority and qualifications as the governing principles in assigning overtime work.
“Even though it was only one shop in the Water Department that was doing this, it could have had larger consequences,” says Gene Scruggs, one of the Union Stewards involved in the grievance. “If we let Management do this in one shop, next thing you know, all the departments are trying it as a way to intimidate employees or play favorites. That’s one of the reasons we have a Union — to keep an eye on Management and make sure they’re following the rules too and not just making things up as they go.”
A Field Representative at Metro Water Services was surprised to learn that his drivers license was cancelled and even more surprised that he got a five-day suspension for it. “I didn’t even know my license was cancelled because I had moved and never got the notice,” he says.
Once he contacted his SEIU representative and explained his side of the story to the department’s Director, and once it was clear that he did all he could to avoid sanctions to his license, his punishment was reduced and the sick & vacation time he’d lost because of the suspension was reinstated. “If I had tried to appeal this on my own, I would have lost,” our member says. “I’m glad the Union was there when I needed them because I can’t afford to lose a week’s pay.”