WARNER ROBINS -- A slate of candidates trying to oust the long-entrenched leadership of the largest union at Robins Air Force Base scored a clean sweep in Tuesday’s election.
Challenger Robert Tidwell defeated nine-year incumbent Tom Scott for the presidency of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 987. Every candidate running on Tidwell’s ticket also won.
They will take office at the next union meeting to be held Nov. 5.
The final total had Tidwell with 441 votes and Scott with 310 votes. The election saw a record turnout with 963 ballots cast. Not everyone votes in every race.
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The union hall was sealed off as an independent contractor counted the ballots. But candidates and their supporters could peer in through the glass doors and see the totals going up on a big screen.
At about 8:30 p.m. a representative of Tidwell, who had been inside monitoring the counting, came out and said the final tally was in, and the opposition candidates had a clean sweep.
The group erupted into a raucous celebration.
“I’m excited,” Tidwell said after the results were announced. “We’ve just got a lot of work to do.”
Scott could not immediately be reached for comment.
The union has about 3,900 members. The only other union at Robins represents the firefighters on base.
When he announced his candidacy, Tidwell said he agreed with comments retired Maj. Gen. Robert McMahon made about the state of labor relations at Robins. McMahon said if relations didn’t improve, it would be bad for the base when the next Base Realignment and Closure Commission comes calling.
Tidwell blamed both the union and management for the problem, but he said the union could be doing more to fix it. He promises to spend more time at the base listening to the concerns of union members to try to address problems before grievances are filed.
He also said he plans to reach out more to the community to keep people better informed about what’s happening on base.
He credited the high turnout, in comparison to past elections, to a desire for change.
“We put a good ticket together,” he said.
To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.