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Judge Grants Restraining Order Against Macomb County Clerk

On Behalf of | Oct 30, 2017 | Firm News

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Macomb County Circuit Judge Matthew Switalski has granted a temporary restraining order to employees of Macomb County Clerk Karen Spranger. The case was brought by American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 411, through their attorneys at Miller Cohen PLC. AFSCME represents about 85 workers in the Clerk’s office. They sought to stop Spranger from harassing employees and retaliating against individuals who are engaged in union activities.

Specifically, the order prohibits Spranger from:

• Denying AFSCME members from having access to their union steward during investigative and disciplinary meetings.

• Creating a hostile work environment for AFSCME workers and retaliating against them.

• Implementing new terms and conditions of employment in her department while an unfair labor practice charged filed against her before the Michigan Employment Relations Commission is adjudicated.

“AFSCME files this charge because it has been confronted with an employer who exercises no restraint in harassing her unionized employees and engages in constant guerilla warfare with the union through undermining and ignoring her contractual obligations in violation of the Public Employment Relations Act,” the complaint states. “She has emotionally abused, intimidated, and demeaned the Bargaining Unit members and has made it clear repeatedly that employees are either with her against the Union or against her by supporting the Union. Ms. Spranger has refused to change her behavior or honor the grievance settlements.” 2

“During the hearing, the union’s key attorney – veteran labor lawyer Bruce Miller – said Spranger was violating state laws that protect union members from retaliation by supervisors if the workers seek to enforce their contract. Spranger’s violations of the AFSCME’s contract have been numerous and flagrant, Miller said. ‘The entire union structure has been shattered. It is hell in that office if you cross this lady. The employees are afraid to come to work,’ he said.” 1

“We’ve had grievances filed as long as my arm,” each upheld by the county’s Human Resources Department, said Donna Cangemi, President of Local 411. “But her behavior just doesn’t stop,” she said, adding: “I’ve been a labor leader for 20 years and I’ve never had to go this far. But our members are just not able to work – conditions are so hostile,” she said.” 1

“AFSCME files this charge because it has been confronted with an employer who exercises no restraint in harassing her unionized employees and engages in constant guerilla warfare with the union through undermining and ignoring her contractual obligations in violation of the Public Employment Relations Act,” the complaint states. “She has emotionally abused, intimidated, and demeaned the Bargaining Unit members and has made it clear repeatedly that employees are either with her against the Union or against her by supporting the Union. Ms. Spranger has refused to change her behavior or honor the grievance settlements.” 2

Switalski, after reviewing the legal filings, said his preliminary judgment was that Spranger had violated state labor statutes and he would grant the union’s request to avoid “irreparable harm” to the workers.

1: http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/detroit/2017/10/28/judge-macomb-clerk-spranger-harassment/808793001/

2: http://www.macombdaily.com/government-and-politics/20171027/judge-oks-restraining-order-against-macomb-county-clerk-karen-spranger