A fight is raging for the right to represent Salt Lake City's employees, with the Utah Public Employees Association saying it's ready to move in and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees saying that's crazy.

Officials from UPEA say that as many as 90 percent of the city's operations, maintenance, clerical and technical workers are ready to oust AFSCME. In a statement released this week, they said a rash of calls from city employees prompted UPEA to begin the challenge.But AFSCME, in a statement sent in response, said UPEA has the support of less than 20 percent of the city's employees. "Nowhere near enough to file for an election, let alone to win an election," the statement said.

To decertify the union, at least 30 percent of the employees in each bargaining unit must sign petitions.

UPEA officials said they are circulating petitions. They said the employees are concerned about eroding benefits and buying power. UPEA says it can negotiate a better deal for employees.

But AFSCME cautioned employees not to believe the claims. "If you don't assume that UPEA will tell you the truth, you won't be disappointed when they lie to you," the AFSCME statement said. "That is because UPEA spends 50 percent of the time telling public employees what UPEA plans to do for them, and the other 50 percent of the time trying to take credit for things they had nothing to do with."

The fight comes as AFSCME is negotiating a new agreement with the city.