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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Pro-Vote Redux: Hickey Answers Back

Posted By on Tue, Sep 18, 2007 at 5:37 PM

I wrote a post yesterday about former employees of a union-backed group called the Missouri Progressive Vote Coalition who say the organization's executive director, John Hickey, thwarted their own attempt to organize.

Today Hickey responded to my request for comment, saying, "Pro-Vote's state board is ready to recognize any union that has majority support."

Now that the leaders of this summer's effort to unionize Pro-Vote have quit their jobs, the question is whether the remaining and new employees will support the Brotherhood of Union Support Staff. BUSS is an independent union that represents the staff of Service Employees International Local 2000 and petitioned Pro-Vote for recognition in August.

Hickey says the Workers Rights Board, a project of Jobs with Justice that acts as a mediator, is gauging the level of pro-union sentiment among his employees.

The former staff members say Hickey was a micromanager who became more controlling after they went to the union. The union filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging that Pro-Vote interfered with the drive.

Hickey says the charge is unfounded.

As for the complaints about his management, Hickey says, "We've had hundreds of staff over the last fifteen years. Do they all agree with everything Pro-Vote does? No, of course not."

Hickey adds that several members of the staff have been there for years, either continuously or off and on.

While the former staffers say Pro-Vote's turnover rate is problematic, Hickey says that because of the organization's track record, it continues to be a first stop for aspiring liberal activists.

Hickey says his main problem is that he has more applicants than positions.

"Every day I get many résumés of people walking in the door, asking to work here," Hickey says. "I think people want to do that because it's a place they can fight for a better world."

-Kathleen McLaughlin

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