By Joy Hampton
The Moore American
MOORE — Longtime city of Moore Mayor Glenn Lewis said union supporters threatened his family. The unidentified callers want the Moore City Council to renew the city’s contract with the American Federation of State, County, Municipal Employees union — the union for nonuniform employees.
Lewis said he received three different phone calls with different voices threatening him and his family.
Union spokesmen said they were appalled and do not support threats or violence.
“I’m totally shocked about what you have told me here today,” said David Johnson, AFSCME representative speaking at the Moore City Council meeting Monday night.
Lewis said he will report the threats to the FBI.
Johnson and other union representatives appealed to the Moore City Council to renew the AFSCME contract when it ends June 30. Johnson and Phillip Maher, a Moore resident and retired UAW member said city administrators are not returning calls from union negotiators, which he believes is a mistake.
“We believe that it’s in the city’s best interest to not renew the AFSCME union contract,” City Manager Steve Eddy said.
Eddy reported that out of 92 employees who are eligible to become union members, only 43 have joined.
“Don’t break us up into compartments,” Johnson said.
Johnson said there are 300 city employees including police and fire, and that 189 of those are union members. On Monday night, Moore council members unanimously approved the renewal of the firefighters union contract.
The dissolution of the union contract is a result of legislative changes in 2011. In 2004, legislation required cities of a certain population size to negotiate with unions. Last year, House Bill 1593 removed that restriction.
So far, five cities in Oklahoma have lost their unions, Johnson said.
Now it appears Moore will be the sixth.
“We’re trained to negotiate. We’re trained to investigate incidents,” Johnson said.
He said employees, as subordinates, aren’t free to advocate for themselves. He said employees and the administration or not on equal grounds, but union negotiators can speak freely to administrators on behalf of employees.
“You have to be equals to talk to each other,” Johnson said. “You have to have a line of communication.”