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Unions demand Pima County Administrator's contract not be renewed

Posted at 5:26 PM, Jan 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-15 07:45:34-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — It's a major demand that could potentially impact everyone living in Pima County. Two Pima County employee unions want County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry gone.

Huckelberry is the county's most powerful leader and controls taxpayer dollars -- impacting all the services and programs, down to road repair, and how efficiently vaccines are being distributed.

We've learned the Pima Area Labor Federation is supporting the two unions' demand and is sending out letters to the Board of Supervisors.

AFSCME, which represents county employees, and the corrections officers union are demanding that the Board of Supervisors deny the county administrator's request for a four-year contract and $13,000 raise.

The unions say they no longer have confidence in Huckelberry's leadership during this challenging pandemic.

"Morale has been very low this year, and I think it's fair to say that we haven't particularly felt supported at the top," said Abigail Okrent with the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal employees. "And if we need that at any time, it's now."

The union says, during this pandemic, Huckelberry's decisions have put lives at risk and negatively affected other officials' ability to keep the county running.

Now, the unions want the board to begin an immediate search for a new county administrator, involve staff and union in the search, and limit Huckelberry's involvement in Pima County.

"Chuck Huckelberry has had 25 years as county administrator. We thank him for his service, but we feel towards what's occurred during this pandemic, mixed with his demands for a raise during this pandemic," said Mike Dominguez with the Pima County Corrections Officer's Union. "They're insulting to our employees, and they're insulting to Pima County community members."

Pima County Supervisor and Doctor at TMC. Dr. Matt Heinz said he believes Huckelberry has been an effective leader but is concerned about the union's stance.

"I want there to be an excellent relationship between the county workers and of course the union -- and it's clear to me from this letter and previous conversations that I've had that we're not at that point right now," he told KGUN 9.

The union's demand comes a week after the Board of Supervisors voted to delay Huckelberry's request.

"I'm confident they'll hear our concerns and that there's not going to be just a renewal of the contract," said Okrent. "If there was, I think this would be devastating to employee morale."

A handful of credible staffers came forward, anonymously, describing the $13,000 raise during the pandemic crisis as a slap in the face.

The three new members of the board recently learned that Huckelberry has never had an employee evaluation over his entire tenure.

The board is expected to discuss the contract during next week's meeting.

We reached out to the county administrator for comment Thursday afternoon, Huckelberry tells KGUN 9 he has no comment on the unions' action.