Two labor groups are trading barbs in their competition to represent municipal employees of Weber County, Ogden City and other local governments in northern Utah.

The Utah Public Employees Association, which represents more than 8,000 employees in both state and local government but does not negotiate contracts, said its non-union status is an asset in dealing with elected officials."We're not quite as confrontational as the unions would be," said Terry Schow, an Ogden state employee and first vice president of UPEA.

But the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, questions the effectiveness of the UPEA. Employee federation officials say government workers need collective bargaining agreements to cover wages, benefits and working conditions.

Federation officials met with Weber County commissioners and said they may try to negotiate a labor contract with the county. They're also interested in contracts with the Ogden, Davis County and other local governments in the region.

Schow said American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is looking for a turf battle with UPEA.

"They're more interested in taking over an area," Schow said. "That's kind of a fear people have, losing local control."