Assistant DAs, public defenders form union through Teamsters Local 771…

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Lancaster County’s government lawyers have voted to formally band together.

The public defenders and assistant district attorneys voted Thursday to form a union through Teamsters Local 771.

“We understand the employees have made a decision through this vote,” the county commissioners said in a statement. “We respect the work that these employees and the many other County employees do every day. We will commence contract negotiations once the election results are certified.”

A representative for the newly formed union has not yet been selected.

Teamsters Local 771 also represents county employees in the probation and domestic relations departments.

Howard Rhinier, principal officer of Teamsters Local 771, said that once the vote is certified after a five-day waiting period, negotiations with the county’s human resources department can begin.

Exactly what will be negotiated has yet to be determined, but Rhinier said wages and health benefits are typical topics of discussion in collective bargaining agreements

Unionization gives the attorneys the ability to band together to negotiate such employment conditions.

Membership in public unions is not a prerequisite of employment.

Todd Brown, chief public defender, referred questions to the county commissioners’ office. The district attorney’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

County attorneys have unionized in other parts of the state. In Allegheny County, assistant district attorneys and public defenders are on the same pay scale and are part of the United Steelworkers union, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported last year.

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