Volume 2 / Issue 7
Rescission of Agency Shop
To provide quality service to the REAP members with integrity and respect, understanding the member is the priority.
Have you ever wondered why you’re required to belong to a union? Most of us understand the concept that big unions will always be backing politicians, who in turn are obligated to the demands of the big union, if they want to be re-elected…a vicious circle, but why are we required to belong to, or join, a union?
There are 24 states that are considered “Right to Work States”. What this means is, if you live in one of these states, you are not required to join the union as a condition of employment. If you choose to resign from union membership, you are still fully covered by the collective bargaining agreement that was negotiated between your employer and the union, and the union remains obligated to represent you. Any benefits that are provided to you by your employer pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement (e.g., wages, seniority, vacations, pension, health insurance) will not be affected by your resignation. (If the union offers some “members-only” benefits, you might be excluded from receiving those.)
California is NOT a Right To Work State.
Therefore, in California, if an employer is unionized, as a condition of employment, employees must join the union or become a “fee” payer. Those recognized as fee payers are only obligated to pay for representation and contract negotiation. The next question you may ask is, “What if I’m unhappy with the representation SEIU gives me? Can I get out?” The answer is yes…SEIU can be fired!
So how exactly is a union fired?
Firing a union is not easy. The process is known as Rescission of Agency Shop. The County Employee Relations Resolution (ERR) has a section that covers the process, as does the California Government Code, Section 3500, known as the Meyers-Milias Brown Act. The MMBA section 3502.5 (d) outlines the requirements for rescinding the Agency Shop agreement between the union and the employees of the bargaining units. Satisfying the requirements of both the MMBA and the ERR will be required. The County ERR is a bit more stringent. Here are the requirements:
1) In order to begin the rescission process, a petition must be signed that garners 30% support of the affected bargaining unit. All signatures must be gathered within a 30 day period prior to filing the rescission petition with the Human Resources Director.
2) After all signatures have been validated, within 60 days, a secret ballot vote is held. This vote is conducted by a State mediator, not SEIU or Human Resources. The State mediator will establish all rules and procedures for the vote. A successful vote will be a majority, 50% + 1 to rescind Agency Shop.
3) This vote can only be taken ONE time during the course of the current MOU. IN NO EVENT SHALL MORE THAN ONE VOTE BE TAKEN.
Is the existing contract still valid?
Yes. As an example, several employees in the Supervisory bargaining unit who have taken advantage of the April “opt out” opportunity in our MOU, will not lose any of the negotiated benefits of the contract. They will receive the newly negotiated step increases and flex benefit increases. Eligible employees whose step increase date was 7/30/2009, and did not get a step increase (PERB complaint), will receive retroactive back pay. SEIU, as the exclusive employee organization, must STILL represent these employees if needed. Many, however, have chosen to be represented by REAP for any disciplinary actions against them.
Section 3506 of the MMBA is very specific: “Public agencies and employee organizations shall not interfere with, intimidate, restrain, coerce or discriminate against
public employees because of their exercise of their rights under Section 3502.” Don’t expect SEIU to adhere to this section.
As word spreads throughout Riverside County and momentum of Rescission of Agency Shop begins, SEIU will be very visible. They will not go down without a fight. One thing is certain, SEIU is going to use our dues dollars to fight against the employees to prevent us from exercising our rights.
If the thought of using our dues dollars to pay someone $80,000.00 per year who is not employed by Riverside County OR SEIU is not your idea of good use of our dues dollars, you may have a vested interest in Agency Shop.
If paying the Inland Regional Director over $180,000.00 per year is not your idea of appropriate, responsible use of our dues dollars, you may have a vested interest in Agency Shop.
If you believe that sending in excess of $800,000.00 per year to the SEIU International in Washington, DC is not in the best interest of our local economy, you may have a vested interest in Agency Shop.
Fighting an organization like SEIU is not easy and it won’t come without some work from all of us. The best way to get involved in the fight is to register at our website, www.reap4us.org. Let us know who you are and what bargaining unit you belong to; Professionals, Para-Professionals, Supervisory, RN’s, Parks and Open Space, or Waste Management. This information allows us to gauge the number of interested employees.
Personally, I’m glad to see these new added step increases, merit increases and added flex benefits. My question is why did it take us two years to get here? Our skilled negotiator knew the day we went on strike what LIUNA was going to ask for…and got! Why didn’t she ask for the same?
Looking Towards the Future…