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Charlotte Amalie
Sunday, June 16, 2024
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What Kind of Trickery Was This?

Dear Source:
I am an Assistant Attorney General, employed by the VI Department of Justice. I also have been elected by the rank in file of the Attorney General Unit of the Seafarer's Union to be the shop steward of that collective bargaining unit. As such, I have been authorized by the rank in file of that unit to represent them to enforce the provisions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, dated October 1, 2001, and expiring on September 30th, 2006, and to negotiate a new contract.
I have read your representation of the rights of the members of my bargaining unit to receive and the obligations of the Government of the Virgin Islands to pay salaries to the members of my unit as negotiated by the agreement dated October 1, 2001 as per Jessica Gallivan, Chief Negotiator of the Office of Collective Bargaining. Ms. Gallivan indicated that the failure of the Legislature to appropriate the necessary funds has resulted in the lack of an obligation of the Government to pay amounts due under Collective Bargaining Agreements as ratified by the Legislature to pay the yearly increments negotiated in good faith by the members of the unions as per said Agreements. These increments were a part of the contract, negotiated in good faith by the union. If the contract was not binding, or the negotiators for the Government were not authorized to represent that their promises were not binding, the rank in file were intentionally misled, the contract was fatally defective and voidable because of fraud.
What kind of trickery was this?
What kind of trickery did the negotiators of the collective bargaining agreements representing the Government of the Virgin Islands engage in with full knowledge that the provisions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement providing for yearly increments in salary to the members of my bargaining unit were not binding, false and would disappear like smoke? To now disavow the obligations of a contract that was adopted,
ratified, and acquiesced to as part of the give and take of negotiations undermines the essence of negotiation.
Members of the various Collective Bargaining Units should recognize that their union is powerless when it enters into negotiations for salary, working conditions, and provisions in the contract to enhance their workplace and to improve their ability to deliver the mission of their workplace to the citizens of the Virgin Islands.
If my memory serves me correctly, efforts by the Teacher's Union to take a stance for amounts due them as per prior contracts were met by union busting decisions by the Judiciary.
Let's face it; a union that represents employees of this government is sterile.
Lofton P Holder, Esq.
St. Thomas

Editor's note: We welcome and encourage readers to keep the dialogue going by responding to Source commentary. Letters should be e-mailed with name and place of residence to source@viaccess.net.

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