A decertification effort is under way that could shrink the size of the Service Employees International Union, the largest bargaining unit for Fresno County workers.
Information about the process has been posted in workplaces of affected Fresno County employees, including jail and juvenile corrections officers, security employees, program technicians and child support workers.
The bargaining unit, one of six under the leadership of the Service Employees International Union, includes about 840 employees. About half are correctional officers, said Eulalio Gomez, a correctional officer leading the decertification effort. SEIU Local 521 covers more than 4,500 Fresno County workers.
“My bargaining unit is unique because correctional officers and security guards are on 24-hour schedules and our folks require 24-hour representation,” Gomez said.
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An election will likely occur in March, said Gomez.
If successful in breaking off from SEIU, they would form the Fresno County Public Safety Association. This year’s effort marks the third try by the group to separate from SEIU.
Gomez said he and other members of his bargaining unit believe that SEIU spends too much time on a social agenda that many either don’t support or don’t believe a union should support.
SEIU is without a contract after its membership voted down a Fresno County raise offer of 2% starting in November and 3% beginning in August. In 2011, county employees were hit with a 9% pay cut. They filed an unfair labor practice with the state Public Employment Relations Board. No decision has been reached about the validity of pay cuts for SEIU members, but an PERB judge did say that Fresno County’s cuts to the Fresno County Prosecutors’ Association were improper and ordered the county to repay the prosecutors with interest. The county is appealing the ruling to the full state employment relations board.
“We are optimistic about the opportunity to work with our new Board of Supervisors,” said Alysia Bonner, Local 521 regional vice president. “All of our focus will be on getting an agreement that invests in our community and respects working families.”