WARNER ROBINS -- A slate of candidates seeking a change in approach for the largest union at Robins Air Force Base scored a second clean sweep in Tuesday’s election for union leadership.
Robert Tidwell, who was elected president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 987 in October, won again over Tom Scott and this time by an even wider margin, 606 to 282. Most other candidates on his team won by similar margins.
Even the trustees won with more than 50 percent of the vote. That had been one issue cited in overturning the October election because none of them took a majority vote then.
After voting ended at 7 p.m., Union Hall was sealed off to all candidates. In October those outside could follow the results by looking through the glass door, but this time the door was blacked out. So no one knew how the election was going until someone came out and announced the results.
That touched off a celebration that was even more raucous than the one in October. Supporters cheered and embraced Tidwell. Scott was not there.
“Our membership came out again and showed they wanted change, and change is what we are going to give them,” Tidwell told about 30 supporters.
The regional union office threw out the results of October’s election after determining seven completed ballots were found in the trash.
Tidwell said the wider margin this time showed union members support the approach of the new administration.
“It says people like what we are doing,” he said. “We are going to keep doing what we are doing.”
While some members of Scott’s administration claimed impropriety in the way the previous election was run, the current officers have said the regional office’s decision was based on a shoddy investigation with the intent of giving the losing side a second chance to win.
A number of allegations swirled in the meantime. And following a complaint by Tidwell, the U.S. Department of Labor is investigating whether the decision to overturn the election was justified, according to union secretary Eric Langston.
Tidwell said the Department of Labor investigation will continue.
In the Oct. 15 election, Tidwell wrested the presidency from nine-year incumbent Scott 441-310. A slate of candidates with Tidwell, advocating a better working relationship with management, won by similar margins.
Relations between the union and management is considered a key issue in the event of another Base Realignment and Closure Commission. Probably no union election has been more closely followed by the community, but it didn’t mean higher turnout, which had traditionally been very low. Tidwell said the union has about 3,900 members.
He said the turnout remained low because union members were frustrated after the previous election results were overturned.
To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.