Local 1536 Member Vindicated in Case Involving Retaliation for Whistleblowing

Arbitrator William Hartsfield has sided with Local 1536, Bernalillo County Youth Services Center (BCYSC) and restored Matt Lucero to his job as a 17-year veteran Youth Program Officer. Lucero was terminated in July 2017 after he issued an April 2017 official complaint concerning unprofessional conduct of a supervisor at the BCYSC.

Instead of properly investigating the complaint filed by Lucero, the County, without informing the Grievant or Union, flipped the investigation and instead targeted Lucero. It was a classic example of retaliation for whistleblowing.

"Upper management holds the rank and file to a higher standard of conduct and professionalism than they hold themselves," said Local 1536 President Ben Chavez. "In this case, management indulged in a gross misuse of tax payer dollars to defend one of their own who was behaving badly.

"Our Local offered no-cost solutions to this conflict right from the beginning. We have approached management countless times to address unprofessional conduct by their team. This facility belongs to the community, and our union respects that fact. Jeopardizing our member's livelihood and wasting all this time and money in the effort to protect an out-of-line manager was something that we could not allow to stand."  

In his opinion and award, the arbitrator listed dozens of reasons why the County must reinstate the Grievant, pay back his lost wages, accruals and pension payments, and pay all the union's costs for the arbitration. The County was responsible for numerous violations of the collective bargaining agreement, conducted an unreasonable investigation, attempted to chill free speech in violation of the Whistleblower Protection Act, deprived the Grievant of due process protections, and failed to provide the Grievant with Garrity Protections or Weingarten Rights.

The County did not prove its allegations against the Grievant and showed favoritism by failing to investigate the supervisor with the same enthusiasm with which they targeted the Grievant.

Brother Lucero is back on the job serving the youth of Bernalillo County.

"Management have serious issues they need to address in terms of professionalism and use of public funds. The County cannot take lightly the lessons contained in this arbitrator’s decision," said Chavez.

Local 1536 intends to address these leadership issues with the County Commissioners in the near future.

Local 1536 Members are joined by Local 1661 and Local 1461 members while attending Bernalillo County Commission Meeting.