Fresno County’s largest union is losing about 20 percent of its membership as a result of an election to change representation.
The Fresno County Public Safety Association, which consists of more than 900 county employees, including correctional officers in the jail and Juvenile Justice Center, child support workers, security officers and technicians, won the right to represent workers who are now in the Service Employees International Union.
Overall, SEIU represents about 60 percent of the county’s nearly 7,600 employees. When votes were totaled this week, those who supported affiliating with the public safety association outnumbered SEIU supporters, 315-234.
The correctional officers and their affiliates failed twice to prevail in electoral battles with SEIU. In a third vote last August, the 854-member Fresno County Public Safety Association appeared to win by a 319-228 vote. But that election was nullified when it was learned that a state election official inadvertently mailed ballots too early.
The public safety association pledges to represent employees without a political agenda. Association president Eulalio Gomez said the SEIU’s efforts to support Black Lives Matter, the $15 minimum wage and immigration reform aren’t a union’s primary job.
“It’s time to meet the members’ needs,” he said. “The members that pay dues come first, and everything else is secondary.”
The members that pay dues come first, and everything else is secondary.
Eulalio Gomez, Fresno County Public Safety Association president
The association will represent its members on wages and benefits only.
If members want to become politically active outside the union, he said, that’s their right, but their dues shouldn’t pay to support issues that some members may not favor.
In a prepared statement issued this week, SEIU officials appeared to concede defeat.
It’s apparent, said Riley Talford, SEIU Local 521 president, that the breakaway group members want a smaller association.
“Though we are disappointed, our fights for fair pay … and improved working conditions are ongoing, and we welcome the new employee association to the table,” he said. “We are ready to stand together as a united coalition of workers to build a better future for all Fresno County employees.”
Election certification is expected next week and, barring any unforeseen developments, the new association will begin representing the former SEIU employees by August.