In February 2020, Escambia County gave bus driver Michael Lowery, president of Amalgamated Transit Union 1395, a one-day suspension for alleged insubordination when he took a day off to complete annual forms required for the union to remained the bargaining unit for ECAT workers.
Lowery later would be suspended an additional three days and subsequently fired when he voice concerns about the safety of his fellow workers at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those arbitration rulings are in the pipeline.
Arbitrator Daniel Saling ruled on Lowery’s behalf and ordered that he be made whole. The county will have to pay the costs associated with the arbitration and Lowery’s pay for the day.
Arbitrator Saling concluded that the County’s denial of his request for a day to work on union business was improper .
The County presented no evidence that the union president was insubordinate. Arbitrator Saling stated three elements must be present to constitute insubordination:
(1) there must be a direct order to an employee;
(2) the employee must be shown to have understood the order; and
(3) the employee must be shown to have blatantly refused to follow the order through actions, words, or both.
Saling concluded that none of those three elements were satisfied in the case.
County HR losses continue to pile up. Taxpayers need answers to why.