PRINEVILLE, OR -- For the second time this calendar year, Crook County Fire and Rescue is answering to accusations of anti-union bias. The Crook County Firefighters Association filed a complaint in April against the department, with Oregon's Employment Relations Board.
Fire Chief Matt Smith is accused of stating his opposition to the formation and advancement of the union, retaliating against union members with stricter discipline and withholding promotions. In its response, the fire district addresses more than 40 complaints, denying wrongdoing. "The district, as part of the process, did the reply to that - 'the answer,' I believe it's called, which is part of the state process. And, from the district's perspective, we want to give the process all of its proper respect; and so there really isn't a lot more that I can say." Chief Smith tells KBND News, "There's more to the complaint than that 'I don't like the Union.' And obviously, there's more to the answer than whether or not I like the union."
Chief Smith says the department is working through the process and hopes for a quick resolution, "There is a hearing that's scheduled for October 15 through 17. From the District's perspective, we want to show the proper respect for the rules that are in place, and certainly, we support all of this process. This is just part of the process in Oregon."
The Crook County Firefighters Association was formed in September of 2016. Their first complaint against the fire district was resolved prior to a hearing.