With SBPEA/Teamsters Merger Pending, County’s Professional Group Jumps To SEIU

(March 17) The more than 800 county employees defined as working within the professional unit have voted to decertify the San Bernardino Public Employees Association (SBPEA) as their labor representative in favor of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The California State Mediator’s Office, to which counting of the ballots had been entrusted, announced the results. In the final tally SEIU affiliation was favored by 441 of those who participated in the vote, while staying with SBPEA was supported by 137. Thirteen casted votes for no representation. More than 200 of those eligible to vote did not participate.
For three quarters of a century, the San Bernardino Public Employees Association had remained in a relatively secure position as the representative of the lion’s share of county workers, but beginning four years ago internal and external events and pressure have threatened to shatter the association.
But last year a contingent of SBPEA members dissatisfied with the association’s leadership urged their fellow union members to reject the contract San Bernardino County Chief Executive Officer Greg Devereaux was proposing, while seeking a special election to decertify the San Bernardino Public Employees Association as the county general line employees’ representative. They instead sought to install Service Employees International Union Local 721 as their bargaining unit. Their effort did not succeed at that time, and SBPEA’s leadership retaliated against the dissidents by expelling those members advocating the change and obtaining a restraining order against the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in June 2014, effectively ending SEIU’s ability to lobby SBPEA members.
On February 11, the SBPEA board informed the association’s membership an affiliation with the Teamsters was under consideration, asserting such an affiliation with the Teamsters would increase SBPEA’s leverage at the bargaining table. There is a contingent within the association adamantly opposed to affiliating with the Teamsters. Some dissatisfaction with the current SBPEA board exists and the move to associate with the Teamsters would virtually lock in the current set of union bosses, some members believe. But by affiliating with the Teamsters, some SBPEA loyalists believe, further erosion of their membership by SEIU can be prevented.

Leave a Reply