Friday, June 9, 2017

Workers: "Why We Left SEIU"

More details are emerging about why 400 city workers in San Diego last month voted to leave SEIU Local 221 and form an independent union called the Association of Chula Vista Employees.

The details are captured in an article published this week in San Diego’s largest daily newspaper (San Diego Union-Tribune, “Split by Chula Vista employees is the latest rift in local labor unions,” June 5, 2017). Here’s an excerpt from the article:
A group of the city’s employees — librarians, planners, forensic investigators and others — voted last month to leave Service Employees International Union, Local 221, and to represent themselves in a new organization…
Many Chula Vista employees had been long-frustrated with the quality of advocacy SEIU had provided on their behalf, said Nicole Hobson, the president of the newly formed Association of Chula Vista Employees.
“This decision was kind of a long time coming,” she said “Lack of services, high dues, they have high employee turnaround, they give us inexperienced representatives,” she said…
The loss of employees at the county’s second-largest city from the largest public-sector union is the most recent turbulence in the organized labor in the county, as well as for SEIU. Last year nearly 500 Poway Unified School District Employees left SEIU in order to represent themselves, as did at least seven other employee groups in the last decade, including employees at the San Diego Community College District, City of La Mesa, as well as some county workers…
Kim Vander Bie, another officer in the new Chula Vista union, said that SEIU wasn’t good at communicating with its members, and they didn’t learn about plans to leave the Labor Council until a decision had already been made.
“I personally didn’t give it a lot of thought because it wasn’t presented to us,” she said. “They didn’t communicate with us very well. We’d find out after the fact, or too late.”
Employees dues have been cut in half since leaving SEIU, and the new city employee union is about to begin contract negotiations with city management. With more independence, they’re planning to get more involved in local elections as they build their treasury, Vander Bie said.
“I hope that future employees will be very cautious before getting into that type of relationship,” she said. “I’m not against unions, which is why I am very active with our new union, but some unions are better than others. Some have better leadership with others. We just had a bad experience.”