ACS Claims Union Vote Rigged

Company disputes election result that would see some workers join CWA.
Outsourcer Affiliated Computer Services claims a vote that has put one of its data processing operations on the path to becoming one of the IT industry's few union shops was plagued by ballot tampering and other irregularities. InformationWeek has learned that ACS has retained a law firm headed by former New York City mayor and Republican presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani to press its allegations.

Workers at ACS' Staten Island, NY facility voted to join the Communications Workers of America, Local 1102, last month by a vote of 144-126. The facility houses about 420 workers in total, most of whom provide data processing and other back office support for New York State's E-ZPass electronic toll collection system.

ACS last week filed a request for a restraining order and temporary injunction in federal court for Eastern New York. ACS said in the court papers that it intends to challenge the results of the union vote before the National Labor Relations Board.

ACS is asking the court to prohibit a regional office of the NLRB that oversaw the ACS Staten Island vote from destroying any records related to the election.

"ACS representatives became aware of irregularities in the safeguards established to protect the integrity of the election results, including, but not limited to, the apparent tampering with two of the envelopes in which ballots were stored," ACS said in its filing.

"Election integrity was of heightened concern because ACS was aware of allegations that CWA had engaged in aggressive and potentially improper campaign tactics during the election," ACS said in court papers, which were filed on its behalf by attorneys at New York City-based Bracewell & Giuliani.

For their part, union officials insist the vote was carried out fairly.

"As far as we're concerned the vote was conducted absolutely perfectly," said Ed Luster, president of CWA Local 1102, in an interview Monday. "We didn't see any irregularities on either side." Luster said he personally witnessed the sealing and unsealing of the ballots and saw no problems.

Luster said he expects ACS Staten Island to be certified as a CWA affiliate as soon as this week.

Unions are almost non-existent in the tech industry. But complaints about offshore outsourcing and job uncertainty amid the recession could result in more IT pros seeking union representation. [email protected], a group comprising current and former IBM workers, has been looking to organize workers at Big Blue for the past several years, but has had little success to date.

An ACS spokesman said the company is "disappointed" that some of its Staten Island workers voted to join CWA and added that the facility already offered good working conditions.

"Our employees in Staten Island currently enjoy some of the highest wages in the industry as well as an excellent benefit program and a positive and constructive work environment," said the spokesman.

"In the event the union becomes the certified representative of a bargaining unit of ACS employees, ACS will negotiate in good faith in an effort to finalize a contract that is satisfactory to the union and ACS," the spokesman added.

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