Wednesday, August 10, 2011

SEIU Officials Sell Concessions to San Diego Workers

Here’s a story from the other side of the country that’s very different from the Verizon unions’ valiant fight. It helps explain why hundreds more workers in San Diego recently filed petitions to decertify SEIU so they can join an independent union.

Here’s what’s going on:

SEIU Local 221 is in contract negotiations with the County of San Diego. Luckily, the County -- unlike many other counties across the nation -- has a budget surplus and $2.2 billion in cash reserves. And the County's pension fund has grown by $1 billion and recently won awards for being one of the best managed and best funded in the country.

Sounds like perfect conditions for county employees to win a good contract, right?

Well… unless SEIU officials are in control. They’re pushing a deal that would cut workers’ pay by 7%-17% by boosting workers’ contributions to their health insurance and retirement plans. B/t/w, county employees already pay a lot for their health coverage ($350 per month in premium co-pays to cover just a single employee).

So how are SEIU officials trying to sell this terrible deal to workers? Check out the following press release that was issued several days ago by a county worker:

Workers Shocked by Open Collusion of County of San Diego and Union Officials

On August 3, 2011, thousands of County employees were amazed to see an email sent out by the County's Human Resources Department "on behalf of" their union. The workers are members of Service Employees International Union Local 221 (SEIU 221). That same day, paid union representatives appeared inside the Mission Valley Family Resource Center and at the County Administration Building. The reps told workers that the County had given the Union permission to go worker-to-worker in work areas, during work time (and disrupting work), to hand out a leaflet and talk to workers about the vote currently being conducted to ratify or reject the tentative agreement (TA) on a new contract.

And what are SEIU’s reps telling workers? Well, they’re apparently forgetting to mention that if you reject a proposed contract settlement, the union usually goes back to the bargaining table to try to negotiate a better deal. Instead, SEIU staffers are spinning out gloom-and-doom scenarios about what’ll happen if workers vote “no”… that they’ll face far deeper benefit cuts and will be forced to work “without a contract for up to one year.” (Here’s the email sent jointly by HR and SEIU officials.)

SEIU’s reps -- led by SEIU Local 221 president Eric Banks -- are also doing the honorable work of spreading hopelessness and cynicism among workers by telling them their co-workers are “not willing and not ready” to fight for a fair contract.

Hmm… smell a rat? Tasty does.

And apparently workers do, too. That’s why one unit of county workers recently filed petitions to decertify SEIU and replace it with an independent union called the “Association of San Diego County Employees.” They’re following the example of other county workers, who’ve already left SEIU Local 221 to form the San Diego County Probation Officers Association. Sounds like more will soon follow…