An assistant clerk at the Stamford probate court claimed she was fired for trying to unionize with fellow workers.
State lawmakers have been looking into the union issue because of claims probate workers did not have much protection. Some believed the bigger issue was that probate workers were at the mercy of probate court judges.
Kristen Rich said she was an assistant clerk for seven years. She said she was fired last week.
"They were giving me a hard time for what I did," she told Eyewitness News in an exclusive interview.
Rich admitted that she had some issues with her immediate supervisor, but said she was never in any trouble. Even though probate workers were paid by the state, they did not have the same health benefits or job security.
Rich said she even testified before lawmakers and urged them to let them unionize.
When she said Judge Gerald Fox fired her, she asked if it had to do with union activity.
"The judge said you have a right to unionize but he didn't agree with it," Rich said.
Eyewitness News asked for Rich's file under the Freedom of Information Act. Fox was also called and asked if Rich was let go for her efforts to unionize.
Fox said "no" and that he was aware of her activities. He also said he "did not know about unionizing until after she went public."
"We really do not know what the real facts are of this case right now," said Rep. Peter Tercyak, chair of the Labor and Public Employees Committee.
Tercyak said the labor committee heard from people on both sides. He said his committee approved a bill that allowed probate workers to unionize if they agree. It still needed to be voted on by the state House of Representatives and Senate.
He did not believe there were enough votes to pass it.
"Job security should not be based on who wins the election for probate judge and whether that person wants to reward his supporters with jobs held by those who have been doing them well for decades," Tercyak said.
Rich said she and her coworkers wanted a voice.
"Make sure no one decided for us," she said. "We should have a voice and make suggestions. We are not being heard."
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