This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.
Teamsters Local Union 117, which represents Pierce County’s park maintenance workers, knows one set of rules by heart.
If its leaders think the county is breaking those rules, they know the drill: Parse their contract language. File grievances. Feed unfair labor practices claims into the machinery of the state Public Employment Relations Commission.
They did that this month over perceived contract violations by Pierce County Parks & Recreation.
But there’s a bigger set of rules that involve public goodwill and the devotion of volunteers. The union trampled those rules when it decided to fight the efforts of neighbors who stepped forward to clean up and maintain the Gonyea and Dawson playfields in Parkland and Midland.
Those two parks – and many others – had been all but abandoned by Pierce County as a result of its dire financial crisis. Funding has gotten scarce, and Parks & Recreation has been forced to stop watering grass, picking up trash and operating restrooms at many of its properties.
The neighbors weren’t content to stand by and watch their playfields rot. They took on some of the maintenance work on their own initiative. The Teamsters raised a stink: The work belonged to them, and Parks & Recreation was letting volunteers do it for free.
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