Volume 2 / Issue 8
To provide quality service to the REAP members with integrity and respect, understanding the member is the priority.
Over the past few weeks, and even months, several calls, emails and even handwritten letters from county employees have been received expressing their thoughts, opinions and words of wisdom with regard to relieving SEIU 721 of their duties here in the County of Riverside. There have also been comments about the latest rumors circulating across the county. While a majority of the communication has been positive, the rumors consist of nothing more than lies and the time has come to set the record straight.
The current SEIU 721 Executive Board members have been telling people that REAP was started by a group of disgruntled SEIU 721 members who lost the Executive Board elections in April of 2013. This could not be further from the truth. While the integrity of the process and procedures of the Executive Board election was (and still is) certainly in question, those who ran on a slate against the current board did not stop participating in SEIU 721 committees and other activities after the election. In fact, these individuals were quite active. So, if you hear that particular rumor in the future, please feel free to set the record straight yourself.
REAP was started because SEIU 721 Executive Board members did not listen to the members and SEIU 721 staff was afraid to stand up to the Executive Board members because they feared they would be fired. This resulted in very few people making ALL the decisions…SEIU 721 a “democratically run union?” I think NOT.
- The “Strong Future” committee scheduled a general membership meeting for May 23, 2013 and invited members to come and vote on issues that would strengthen their future. This meeting was not advertised to all members; but was heavily advertised to those members making $15.00 an hour and less.
- When active members caught on to the fact SEIU leaders planned to hold a dues increase vote, disguised as a “vote for a strong future,” questions were asked and answers demanded. Answers were not forthcoming but the May general membership meeting turned in to a “Strong Future” Power Point presentation full of reasons why SEIU 721 NEEDED MORE OF YOUR MONEY! Many members in attendance began spreading the word to their coworkers that a dues increase was imminent if they did not participate in the voting process.
- June 18, 2013 – SEIU 721 and the Strong Future committee created a series of obstacles making it almost impossible for members to vote on whether they felt a dues increase was warranted. First, members were given two hours to vote – between 6 pm and 8 pm on only ONE DAY! Members across the county began calling and demanding more time to vote. Feeling the pressure, SEIU 721 granted two additional hours, allowing members to vote between the hours of 5 pm and 9 pm – but still only one day and ALL MEMBERS were required to vote at the Riverside location – IN PERSON. Our Desert co-workers were forced to drive 2 or more hours in order for their voice to be heard. SEIU 721 made it clear they did NOT WANT to hear the voice of their members! But our Desert co-workers as well as our co-workers across the county showed up in record numbers, which resulted in not only a “NO” vote but a “HELL NO” vote! Members did not believe SEIU 721 deserved a raise because SEIU 721 was completely ineffective as our union. Additionally, once people learned about the under-handed way SEIU 721 tried to slip by a dues increase without the members’ knowledge, they showed SEIU 721 who was REALLY in charge!
June 18,2013 is the day REAP was born and is the real reason County employees created REAP. The lack of representation, ineffective communication, consistent incompetence and authoritative and exclusive leadership just added to the justification and the need to create our own organization. Everything mentioned above happened in a short 4-5 week period – it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. And for SEIU 721, it was a hard lesson to learn. But what really changed after that? Not much until REAP went live. All of a sudden, SEIU 721 staff has changed – there are new staffers making their way around the county to many of our workplaces. They talk the language of “inclusiveness” to lure you close and peak your interest. They are handing out “life insurance” applications, collecting your name, address, date of birth, social security number and your beneficiaries’ names. They are using these forms to recruit new members as well as new Stewards. What a wonderful show of inclusiveness. Could this be too good to be true? You bet it is! Take a close look at that life insurance application. Hidden in the fine print is the applicant’s permission to increase the member’s monthly dues! What? Can this really be?
Shortly after the failed dues increase, SEIU 721 President Bob Schoonover, admitted they did not handle the matter correctly. I guess he determined the correct way is to hide the approval for a dues increase in the middle of an application for SEIU Membership Application oops, Life Insurance. Here’s Bob’s letter…
Here is the life insurance enrollment form your union is circulating…it’s the part near the bottom – read it and REAP!
Stay Focused and continue to Look Towards the Future!!