Local

Will ousted Robins union leaders be forbidden to seek re-election?

People stand outside the headquarters of American Federation of Government Employees Local 987 in Warner Robins on Thursday as a hearing is held on allegations against the former union leadership.
People stand outside the headquarters of American Federation of Government Employees Local 987 in Warner Robins on Thursday as a hearing is held on allegations against the former union leadership. The Telegraph

A hearing began Thursday on unspecified allegations against the former leadership of the largest union at Robins Air Force Base.

At least one member of that leadership team, elected three years ago, said he believes the decision is already made.

Eric Langston had been secretary of American Federation of Government Employees Local 987 until the national union booted the elected officers out Aug. 15. A trustee has been running the union.

On Thursday, Langston was outside the union hall along with some other members as a hearing was held inside to determine the fate of the ousted leadership. Langston said he is “99.9 percent sure” that the ousted leaders will be forbidden from running for re-election again. A new election had been set for October but that has been postponed.

Langston said the hearing is being conducted by the national union office. A panel of three representatives of the national office will decide the case, he said.

“They are the judge, jury and executioner,” Langston said.

The hearing was closed to all except union members, and Langston said some of those were turned away after the crowd reached 100. Witnesses will be called Thursday and Friday. A decision is expected sometime later.

Langston said his best hope is that when a new election is held, which he expected to be within 60 days, members who were like-minded with the ousted leaders will run for office.

Langston said the ousted president, Robbie Tidwell, has already resigned from the union.

Langston said the hearing began with a “very hostile” argument from national Vice President Everett Kelley. The national union recently conducted an audit, which Langston said was at Tidwell’s request, and seized all the local records. That prompted the local leaders to call the police but no charges were filed and the records were taken.

“We are still not sure what they are charging and who is being charged with what,” Langston said. “They just said there were some major findings in the financial reports.”

He also said Kelley accused the ousted leadership of being controlled by base management and the 21st Century Partnership, a community group that advocates for the base.

Several other union members were standing outside the hall but all declined to comment.

The leadership that was thrown out recently won office three years ago over an entrenched leadership that Tidwell argued was unwilling to work with management to solve problems.

Tidwell and other officers who ran with him advocated a more cooperative approach, and they have been widely praised by base management and community base supporters.

Rob Brooks, chairman of the 21st Century Partnership board, said earlier that he met with the appointed union trustee. Brooks said he agreed the conversation would remain private, but he did share one thing the trustee told him.

“He said they would not do anything that would hurt the base,” Brooks said.

At the 21st Century Partnership meeting held Thursday, Brooks expressed support for the leadership of the union over the past three years and urged members to do likewise.

Wayne Crenshaw: 478-256-9725, @WayneCrenshaw1

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