Case No. 03-EA-01
                                      Issued:  November 12, 2002

YORK COUNTY,                    )
                    Appellant,  )   
                                )       DECISION AND ORDER ON
          and                   )           MOTION TO STAY
                                )      BARGAINING AGENT ELECTION
                    Appellee.   )

     This case began when Teamsters Union Local 340 ("Union")
filed a unit determination and election petition with the Maine
Labor Relations Board ("Board") for a bargaining unit composed of
the Captains in the York County Sheriff's Department.  The County
argued to the Board that the Teamsters should not be allowed to
represent this unit because the Teamsters already represents
bargaining units whose employees are supervised by the Captains. 
The Board's decision and order of September 27, 2002, concluded
that the Board has no statutory authority to disqualify a union
from representing the employees who have freely elected that
union as their bargaining agent.  On October 9, 2002, York County
filed an appeal of the Board's decision in Superior Court.  
In response to a request by the Union to proceed with the
election, the Executive Director's designee sent a letter to the
parties on October 23, 2002, setting tentative dates for the
election.  On October 24, 2002, the Employer filed a motion to
stay further action in the case with the Board.  Both parties
filed written briefs on the motion that were considered by the

     The Board's jurisdiction to hear this matter lies in 
26 M.R.S.A. 968(4), as an appeal of an election matter, as well
as under section 11004 of Maine's Administrative Procedure Act. 
5 M.R.S.A. chapter 375.
     Maine's Administrative Procedure Act provides that an
administrative agency may issue a stay of an agency decision
"upon a showing of irreparable injury to the petitioner, a strong
likelihood of success on the merits, and no substantial harm to
adverse parties or the general public."  5 M.R.S.A. 11004. 
After considering the arguments of the parties, we deny the
motion to stay the election because the County has failed to show
that these three requirements have been met.
     York County argues that an irreparable injury to the County
will occur because the minute the Captains vote in the bargaining
agent election, they will act as "union brothers" and "may need
to stop and think about the union related implications of a
directive for a union brother or sister before they act." 
(County brief at 2-3).  This is pure speculation.  It assumes
that the Captains in the York County Sheriff's Department are
going to be unable to do their jobs because of some higher
allegiance to the Union.  The County provides absolutely no basis
for that assumption.  The County did not present any evidence to
even suggest that the Captains' commitment to their jobs will be
compromised if they vote to be represented by the Teamsters.  
We consider it a serious disservice to these individuals who have
made law enforcement their profession to simply assume that being
represented by the same union as their subordinate employees is
somehow going to disrupt their priorities or impede their ability 


to issue commands or supervise other professional law enforcement

     Furthermore, the County does not provide any evidence of any
other law enforcement agency in Maine (or elsewhere, for that
matter) in which the alleged "conflict of interest" has actually
resulted in compromising the interests of law enforcement or
public protection generally.  Nearly twenty years ago, the Board
issued its Kittery decision on the very same point.  Kittery and
Teamsters Union Local 48, No. 83-A-02 (Feb. 7, 1983).  If the
irreparable harm the County is worried about were real, one would
think that they would be able to point to an example of it
occurring at some point over the nearly twenty years since
Kittery.  In addition, as we stated in our initial decision on
this matter, the employer has the authority to require all of 
its employees to perform their jobs, including the Captains.  
We think the County's claim of irreparable harm is simply too
speculative to justify issuing a stay of the election.

     We disagree that the County has a strong likelihood of
succeeding on the merits of its appeal of our decision holding
that the Teamsters were not precluded from representing the
Captains.  Without belaboring the point, the County's statutory
construction argument is no more persuasive to us today than it
was a few weeks ago.

     We also reject the County's claim that no harm to the
adverse party or the general public will result from the issuance
of a stay.  The pending question before the Superior Court is
only whether the Teamsters can be prevented from representing the
Captains; there is no dispute that the Captains are covered by
the Municipal Public Employees Labor Relations Law (Act) and are
entitled to be represented for the purposes of collective


bargaining.  The whole purpose of the Act is to give public
employees the opportunity to collectively bargain with their
employer.  The selection of a bargaining agent is a means to that
end, not an end itself.  If we were to grant a stay in this case,
we would be interfering with the undisputed right of these public
employees to seek the benefit of bargaining collectively.  They
are entitled to have the election process go forward and, if they
choose to be represented, to begin the bargaining process.

     We have on previous occasions expressed our concern about
letting a party use an appeal of a certification or an election
issue as an excuse to avoid collective bargaining.  We are
concerned that if we issued a stay in this case, other parties
under our jurisdiction would be encouraged to appeal election
matters and seek a stay and thereby avoid bargaining or holding
an election until the union's majority status is dissipated. 
See, AFSCME v. Bangor Water District, No. 81-15 (March 2, 1981),
at 4.  We must emphasize that there is absolutely no indication
in the present case that the employer is attempting to draw out
this case in order to erode the Union's support.  We are
concerned, however, that we not create an opportunity for a less
honorable employer to do just that.  

     On the basis of the foregoing discussion and pursuant to 
the powers granted to the Maine Labor Relations Board by the
provisions of 26 M.R.S.A. 968(4), it is ORDERED:      
     That the motion filed by York County to stay further
     action in the bargaining agent election for the York
     County Captains bargaining unit is denied.  The
     executive director or his designee shall proceed in
     conducting a secret ballot election to determine 


     whether a majority of the employees in the Captains
     bargaining unit wish to be represented by the Teamsters
     Union Local 340.

Dated at Augusta, Maine, this 12th day of November, 2002.

The parties are hereby advised     MAINE LABOR RELATIONS BOARD
of their right, pursuant to 
26 M.R.S.A.  968(4) (Supp.
2001) to seek review of this       /s/________________________
Decision and Order on Motion       Peter T. Dawson
to Stay Bargaining Agent           Chair
Election by the Superior
Court.  To initiate such a
review an appealing party must     /s/________________________
file a complaint with the          Karl Dornish, Jr.
Superior Court within fifteen      Employer Representative
(15) days of the date of
issuance of this decision and
order, and otherwise comply        /s/________________________
with the requirements of Rule      Carol B. Gilmore
80C of the Maine Rules of          Employee Representative
Civil Procedure.