Union Hosts Meetings for Redfield Developmental Center Employees Feb. 11

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.

27 Responses to Union Hosts Meetings for Redfield Developmental Center Employees Feb. 11

  1. bret clanton

    Historically the words “union” and “corruption” are included together in a lot of terminology …..

  2. mike from iowa

    Don’t blame the unions,blame the Mafia. A better comparison might be wingnuts and corruption.

  3. Hallelujah.

    lets get rid of the cattlemens and stock growers too you idi….

    corruption blossoms at every opportunity. human nature.

  4. Well this is sad news. Once those poor slobs unionize their jobs are probably toasted and that whole hospital there will close.

  5. Poor slobs? Classy.

  6. owen reitzel

    One of the few places that has a union in South Dakota. Which is why wages are so low here.
    Teachers have a union but are paid 51st in the nation. No power with that union.
    Time to get right of the right to work for less laws.
    I wish these people luck.

  7. Looks like a case of a Mad Cow dis-ease here, Bret.

  8. They can unionize away but that’s not going to help them get more money. The job is what the job is and it’s probably not pretty. If they moved the SDDC Development Center to Sioux Falls or somewhere they could probably hire more people from a bigger work pool and make things safer and pay more money. I don’t make the economic realities, I’m just sayin…

  9. As I am not a teacher, I have always wondered the purpose of a teachers union that does not seem to care much about wages for their rank and file. How does that work?

  10. Unions don’t work, Mr. jerry. They encourage people to work less hard.

  11. owen reitzel

    They do care Jerry. The problem is that they have no power because they can’t strike. Plus this is a right to work state so when a local school union negotiates with the schools the teachers that aren’t union get the benefits. Doesn’t seem fair.

    And yes unions do work. I used to belong to a union and I worked just as hard as I normally would. Don’t paint a broad brush Grud.

  12. Moving SDDC isn’t the answer to staff shortages. REMOVING current administration is. Management has historically cited geography has the reason SDDC isn’t fully staffed. That couldn’t be further from the truth, as evidenced by the State of South Dakota’s very own Department of Labor’s statistics. The workforce is there, they just aren’t willing to work at SDDC and are taking jobs elsewhere. If anything, geography works in SDDC’s favor targeting those that aren’t highly educated and of lower socioeconomic class and don’t have to means to commute outside of Redfield to work.

  13. Indeed unions work and in South Dakota, the teachers should be able to strike. If they strike and they loose, what are they loosing? Right to work only means right to starve.

  14. Mr. jerry, I don’t know much about how striking works but if Mr. Pogany or any of the teacher union people asked me I would tell them now is not the time to go on strike. I would bet you a strawberry/banana cream pancake with chocolate syrup that Mr. H would even agree that the teachers should not go on strike right now.

  15. As I said, I am not a teacher, but it would seem to me that if there was a strike, that would disrupt the whole apple cart to find a way to pay a legitimate wage. It is just wrong for teachers to be abused as it is like getting back at them for putting your sorry arse in detention.

  16. Mr. reitzel, I did not know that some teachers got some things that others did not. Would it not be amusing to some of the school boards if they negotiated with the unions to pay those teachers and then turned around and just added $1,000 to every teacher not covered by the union contract?

    I wonder if the BluRT-F will crush the unions by making sure all teachers, all good teachers union or not, get these $8,500 raises.

  17. owen reitzel

    That’s not what I said Grud. The local negotiates and ALL teachers get the benefits. Not just the union ones.
    School boards could do that Grud but you can imagine the morale problems.

  18. I see. It is always amazing to learn more about unions. Thank you.

  19. Unionizing won’t solve all ills at SDDC, but it would give workers a unified voice and more leverage to get management to pay them better wages, give them more tolerable schedules, etc.

    The geography question is a separate issue, on whether it makes sense for the state to maintain this facility in Redfield or move those services to a larger urban center. But in Redfield or in Aberdeen or Sioux Falls, a union would give those employees more power against abuses of pwoer.

  20. Bret, as Leslie said, corruption can happen in any organization. It happens in management; it happens among labor. Unions have power and money; such things invite exploitation. Workers have to watch their own organization’s finances and management just as they must watch for and call out the abuses committed by their employers.

    We could say something similar about political parties. Yes, Democrats have shown their own tendency toward corruption in Chicago and other places. But examples of Democratic Party corruption do not mean that we should not work to strengthen the South Dakota Democratic Party to check the corruption of the South Dakota Republican Party. We should build a strong SDDP to check the power of the SDGOP, then make sure we elect decent men and women to our party leadership and watch them like hawks even as we keep kicking GOP keester.

  21. I don’t think grudznick is paying any attention. None of the news stories involving this issue mentions money as the motivating factor. It is about a hostile administration and unsafe working conditions. People are fearing for their life, limbs, and mental health. They are not looking for an extra buck even though they should be an issue.

    Moving to an area with a larger labor pool most likely will result in a turnover ratio closer to that of other “developmental centers” due to the fact that employees would have other options. There are not many opportunities in Redfield for people looking to flee the center. They are very stuck. Trust me, this has been a long time coming, Paul Register is extremely reputable.

  22. Nathan Rham

    While not all unions are built the same, corruption is largely an issue of the Hoffa Era of unionism and isn’t reflective of this day and age. It’s about getting respect from management to know that your concerns are heard. Safety, staffing levels, and quality of life are all things that can be changed when people come together. I advocate for many groups across the state who are taken advantage of and demoralized by administrations who simply don’t care. It’s a statewide systemic issue from Pierre all the way down to the local government levels. I fight everyday to help working people in South Dakota no matter where they work.

  23. Evidently Director Banghart doesn’t want to work in a union shop. She “retired” yesterday:


  24. Yes, a great start. Next to consider “retiring” ought to be the HR manager. How this guy sleeps at night is beyond me. Then a few of Jan’s drinking buddies and perhaps the nice folks at SDDC can breathe again.

  25. Good luck to all involved in the unionizing meetings today. SDDC employees deserve respect!

    Great article in the Redfield Press this week – go Paul!

    Still waiting for the “retirement” of HR manager Terry “Casanova” Lloyd.