Will the fourth time be the charm for a breakaway group in Fresno County’s largest union to represent themselves?
Voting got under way this week for Fresno County correctional officers and other bargaining units in their attempt to part ways with the Service Employees International Union.
The correctional officers and their affiliates failed twice to win election in a battle with SEIU. In a third vote last August, the 854-member Fresno County Public Safety Association, which represents correctional officers in the jail and Juvenile Justice Center, child support workers, security officers and technicians, appeared to win by a 319-228 count.
But that vote was nullified when it was learned that a state election official inadvertently mailed ballots too early.
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This year, said Eulalio Gomez, the association’s president, the number of employees eligible to vote is about 900.
SEIU represents about 4,500 Fresno County employees, nearly two-thirds of its workforce.
This is not about union-busting.
Eulalio Gomez, Fresno County Public Safety Association president
Gomez and his supporters want to leave SEIU because they are concerned about the larger union’s efforts in social justice protests, many of which they contend oppose law enforcement officers or promoting minimum wage at large protests outside the area.
Gomez said members in other units within SEIU also are considering breaking away.
“This is not about union-busting,” Gomez said. “Our association will be all about wages and benefits. The rest is about personal choices.”
Riley Talford, president of SEIU Local 521 in Fresno, said the union is working to get the word out to its bargaining units about the benefits of staying in SEIU.
“The more people who vote, the better it will be for us,” he said. “I think we’ve done a good job of getting our message out.”
All ballots must be received by June 16. The votes will be tabulated on June 20.