Correctional officers who work in the Fresno County Jail are seeking a way out of the Service Employees International Union -- again.
It won't be easy, and it certainly won't be amicable.
A vote will come possibly around the Thanksgiving holiday and already both sides are ramping up the campaigning.
"We're not anti-union," said Victor Prado, co-president of the Fresno County Public Safety Association, who helped lead a similar breakaway call last year. "We just want someone who's going to bring things back to the basics."
Prado, along with fellow correctional officer Eulalio Gomez, have been leading the effort to break away from the SEIU.
Among other complaints, they say the union has become like a big corporation that is pursuing a national agenda with goals like passing immigration reform and implementing President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act. Instead, they say, it should be focused on core issues at the local level like wages and benefits.
"We think the SEIU business model is broken," Gomez said. "They're just too militant, too political for us."
The two say if the Fresno County Public Safety Association bargained on behalf of the Unit 2 employees, dues would stay local -- as would the focus. Anything beyond wages and benefits would be pursued only after a membership vote.
Gomez and Prado say they have the backing of a majority of the nearly 400 jail correctional officers, but at least one of their fellow officers is opposed to breaking away from the SEIU.
Julian Arvizu is the top-ranking SEIU official in Unit 2, and he's already appeared on flyers discouraging union members from signing the Fresno County Public Safety Association petition to force a vote on union representation.
"Here we go again, a new and unproven association is going around collecting signatures to divide our bargaining power," he is quoted as saying in one flyer. "Let's stick together with our colleagues ... There is power in numbers."
Tom Abshere, director of the local SEIU chapter, didn't return a phone call seeking comment. Instead, he referred the call to SEIU spokesman Tom Webster, who issued a written statement.
"We are a large, diverse democratic union with thousands of members, and we, as a group, decide what our priorities are," the statement says in part. "Right now, our priority is getting the County of Fresno back on track. While other cities and regions have started rebounding from the devastating recession, our county leaders have failed to lead as they scratch each other's back."
The 4,200-person SEIU chapter covers a wide range of county workers. Of that, Unit 2 has more than 800 members, with the jail correctional officers making up a little less than 50% of that number.
Last year, Gomez and Prado led an effort to have the jail correctional officers break away from Unit 2, and then, they planned, from SEIU. But the effort was opposed by SEIU and nixed by the Fresno County Civil Service Commission.
Now, the duo's latest effort is to break away all of Unit 2 from the SEIU. The unit represents not just jail correctional officers, but others such as juvenile correctional officers and Fresno County security guards.
The jail correctional officers have never been in total lockstep with the SEIU. For instance, last year they didn't participate in a three-day strike called by the SEIU to protest pay cuts imposed by the county.
But whether they -- or the others who make up Unit 2 -- would vote to leave the union is unclear. It would likely come down to turnout, both Gomez and Prado say.
The next step comes Oct. 22, when the Fresno County Public Safety Association and SEIU representatives meet to discuss the election's rules.