Another Attempt To Decertify SBPEA, County’s Largest Public Employee Union

(May 13)  An effort is underway to decertify the union currently representing over 15,000 employees working for San Bernardino County.
The Service Employees International Union wants to displace the San Bernardino Public Employees Association.
Service Employees International, Known by its acronym SEIU, has been actively testing the interest of the county’s employees to depart from the San Bernardino Public Employees Association (SBPEA) for several months.
The SEIU campaign has been timed to correspond with the association’s ratification process for a new labor contract with the county, the voting on which is set to end today.
A recent posting on the SBPEA website, one headed “SEIU Promises…” outlined numerous concessions the Service Employees International Union has made in its collective bargaining efforts on behalf of employees with several governmental entities, including the state of California, the Bay Area Rapid Transit System, the cities of Hayward, El Monte, and Redwood City, the county of Riverside and the San Francisco Superior Court. The posting further references annual dues paid by SEIU members, which are called a “per capita tax paid to the International Union” of $299,797,852 in 2012. “That same year SEIU International spent $453,148,866,” the post continues. “They can’t balance their own checkbook.”
In another post, titled “Displacing The Myths” the San Bernardino Public Employees Association website seeks to defend the terms of the new labor contract, referred to as a “tentative agreement.” According to that posting, three “myths” about the agreement are that it will increase healthcare costs borne by association members, it will force county employees to pay 7 percent of their pay into the county employee pension fund and it will provide no pay increase. Those “myths” are inaccurate, according to the posting.
A third posting, “SEIU Won’t Stop,” upbraids the Service Employees International Union for using its members’ dues to run an informational campaign against SBPEA’s negotiated tentative agreement with San Bernardino County.
“Did you know that SEIU has invested millions of dollars on a “Vote No” campaign that essentially discourages unit San Bernardino Public Employees Association members from agreeing on a successor MOU [memorandum of understanding]?” the posting asks.
The prospect for the success of the Service Employees International Union ploy to decertify SBPEA hinges in large measure on the success of the new labor contract ratification. If the contract is passed, the likelihood of decertification, already comparatively dim, would grow even more remote.
Indeed, the Sentinel has obtained a copy of a mailer sent out by SEIU to San Bernardino Public Employees Association members. In that mailer it is stated that “The proposed contract would cost each county employee an average of $6,388 out of our pockets and if the premiums increase as they have in the past, up to $11,656 more in healthcare costs.”
The mailer further asserts that the proposed contract would divert “7% of our paycheck for pensions,” provide “no across the board raise,” and result in “increased healthcare costs.”
The mailer quotes Juana Gamez, who works in the county’s Children and Family Services division, as saying “I can’t afford a pay cut or to pay more for my retirement. I have already gone without a cost of living raise for five years.”
Oracio Diaz, who works in the Transitional Assistance Department, is quoted as saying, “We need a strong union that wins for union members- not one that negotiates takeaways.” Another of his colleagues in the Transitional Assistance Department, Maricruz Juarez, is quoted as saying, “If SBPEA can’t deliver a contract that keeps up with the cost of living, we need a new union.”
Vida Walker, a third employee in the Transitional Services Department is quoted as saying, “I knew I was overworked and underpaid. Now I see that I’m also underrepresented by SBPEA.”
The mailer advises recipients, “Vote no on the proposed San Bernardino County contract.”
Previous efforts to decertify SBPEA as the representative of some or all county employee divisions by agents working on behalf of the Teamsters, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers have failed.

Leave a Reply