What is an “organization?” I ask in order that the citizens of Semmes might decide for themselves if the rights of the city-paid firemen employed by the City Of Semmes have been violated.
The proper understanding of the word “organization” is important for this discussion because in last Thursday’s council meeting, Judy Hale mentioned the fact that city-paid firemen are required to be members of the Semmes Volunteer Fire Department. On the face of it, one might not take notice of that statement made “from the horse’s mouth” but it does raise the question of the legality of that requirement. If you just don’t trust what Judy says, as many do not, this requirement can be verified by asking any of the eighty or so firefighters that have perilously made their way through the entanglement of employee torture established by Judy’s authoritarian form of city government.
So what does “organization” mean – especially in reference to Alabama’s “right-to-work” statutes?
Basically, Alabama statutes (Code of Alabama 25-7-30) prohibit employers and unions from requiring union membership in order for employees to get a keep a job. Okay, so it’s talking about unions, but read on.
Alabama has also declared that it is “the public policy of Alabama that the right of persons to work shall not be denied or abridged on account of membership or nonmembership in any labor union or labor organization.” There’s that word again, “organization.” One might take the easy road and look up the definition in one of many dictionaries. One of the most common definitions is “an organized body of people with a particular purpose, especially a business, society, association, etc.” (In this instance, would the City Of Semmes or the SVFD be an “organization?)
Fortunately, our question about this troublesome matter may have been simplified by lawmakers and others that boil the laws down to their essence. For example, a highly respected source, www.findlaw.com, boils the statute down to the following:
|Code Section||Code of Alabama 25-7-30, et seq.: Right to Work|
|Policy on Union Membership, Organization, etc.||The right of persons to work shall not be denied or abridged on account of membership or nonmembership in any labor union or labor organization.|
|Prohibited Activity||Any agreement/combination between employer and labor union or organization denying nonmembers right to work is prohibited; labor organizations cannot require membership, abstention, or payment of union dues. (Italics added for emphasis)|
|Penalties||Harmed person may recover such damages sustained by reason of denial or deprivation of employment.|
Now let’s not even consider the fact that the SVFD board votes on who stays and who goes (city-paid firemen). Rumor has it that once the board has decided who goes, they give their recommendation to Judy. But then again, rumors also circulate that Judy hires and Tim fires. Guess we might want to talk with one of our former Fire Captains about that.
Help me out here. Is there anything wrong with this picture? Is the city and/or the SVFD an “organization?” Have any rights been violated? Does the SVFD BOARD ( Read Tim Hale) have the authority to have city employees fired, or worse, to make life hell for them so they will quit and be cheated out of severance pay?