ELKHART — Members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees are calling out what they claim are bully tactics from the City of Elkhart’s contract negotiator, Carol McDowell Loshbough.
AFSCME members put up an estimated 250 yard signs in the city this week, with a photo of McDowell and a stop sign saying “Stop workplace bullying.”
“Carol McDowell has engaged in bullying city workers of Elkhart,” the sign reads. “Ms McDowell has screamed at, belittled threatened and bullied city workers.”
AFSCME then provides McDowell’s phone number and encourages people to call her.
McDowell, who is vice president of the city’s Board of Public Works, doesn’t recognize the claims brought by AFSCME.
“I haven’t yelled at anybody, I haven’t called anybody any names,” said McDowell.
She said she has successfully negotiated contracts with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the Fraternal Brotherhood of Police and the International Association of Fire Fighters.
“I’m doing this because I love the city of Elkhart, its residents and its employees, and if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be sitting at the negotiating table,” said McDowell, who pointed out that she is an unpaid works board member.
Despite AFSCME encouraging people to call her and tell her to stop bullying, McDowell said she had not received any phone calls of that type on Friday, though she had received 36 positive phone calls.
She said AFSCME made similar claims four years ago, then against city attorney Randall Arndt.
“This seems to be a standard union posture, if you will, and there’s nothing much I can do about that except try to remain as respectful as I can to the people in the room,” she said.
David Robertson, executive director of AFSCME Council 962, which covers Indiana and Kentucky, said McDowell has continuously threatened mediation against the local chapter, and that, when AFSCME thought a deal had been negotiated, McDowell stepped in and made them start over.
He recognized that some people may feel that giving out McDowell’s phone number is going too far but said his members are tired of the tactics and need it to stop.
Robertson wrote a letter to McDowell in August, asking her to stop bullying his members, but he said it didn’t work.
“She told our lead negotiator to shut the hell up, threatened mediation even in the beginning. She has refused to bargain, she has constantly yelled and screamed at the table,” Robertson said.
What AFSCME wants out of the public campaign against McDowell is to put pressure on her to stop the alleged bullying and union-busting tactics, he said.
“Come to the table, let’s get a contract for the City of Elkhart workers,” he said.
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