What’s another way to fight corruption in South Dakota? Support unions.
Beleaguered employees at the South Dakota Developmental Center in Redfield may pursue unionization to better deal with understaffing and an allegedly oppressive workplace, thanks to the efforts of former employee Paul Register:
Paul Register contacted the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees in Minnesota to arrange two meetings for employees at the center in Redfield.
“I want the employees of SDDC to have better protection from the administration that has treated them so shamefully,” Register said Tuesday. “The state tries to control how the employees see, think and feel. I just want them to know the voice that needs to be heard, most of all, is their (employee’s) own.”
Register said the developmental center’s administration does not provide the same fair treatment to all the employees. He has brought the issues to the South Dakota Department of Human Services through letters and a petition that garnered 84 employee signatures hoping that something would be done.
…“They (the administration) protect who they want to,” Register said. “In my original letter to division secretary Gloria Pearson, I referred to how SDDC is divided by factions — the untouchables and the expendables. And everybody knows who is who out there. It’s not secret” [Shannon Marvel, “Developmental Center Unionizing Meeting Slated for Feb. 11,” Aberdeen American News, 2016.02.04].
Marvel reports AFSCME rep Nathan Rham will host two meetings next Thursday to discuss what Developmental Center employees could get from unionizing. Both meetings happen at the Wesleyan Church in Redfield, 102 E. 10th Ave., at 12:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.
Unions exist to allow workers to check the power of owners and bosses. That check is all the more important in a small town and a small state where all the bosses, especiall know each other and can easily block troublemakers from finding other employment. Strengthening our public employee unions (which Initiated Measure 23, the fair-share law, would do!) and thus empowering public employes to call out their bosses for bad actions is one component of a comprehensive strategy for making South Dakota government more honest and responsive to the needs of its employees and its citizens.