Volume 2 / Issue 10
To provide quality service to the REAP members with integrity and respect, understanding the member is the priority.
For those employees belonging to the Supervisory Bargaining Unit represented by SEIU, between April 1 and the last working day in April of each year, you have the opportunity to “Opt-out” of the union. This means you are NOT required to pay any Agency Fees or Maintenance of Membership fees regardless of what SEIU staff may tell you.
Article 24 of your current MOU outlines the procedure required by SEIU. It states: “Any employee desiring to revoke their authorization for dues shall forward a letter by United States Mail or in person to SEIU; setting forth his/her desire to remove said authorization and may include reasons thereof. To be considered, a letter shall be received by SEIU on or after April 1st, but no later than the last working day of April. SEIU shall promptly forward a stop deduction to County payroll in the manner provided by the County.”
In April of 2014, several employees took advantage of this provision and chose to exercise their right to opt-out of SEIU. However, as was expected, SEIU changed the rules to the game. I say “game” because this is exactly what this has become! Here’s what SEIU did:
IN PERSON OPT OUT – Along with your opt out letter, SEIU required that employees fill out and submit a “Supervisory Opt-Out Designation” form.
OPT-OUT by MAIL – During the opt-out period, REAP advised employees choosing to take advantage of Article 24, to send their opt-out letter in to SEIU via certified mail through the United States Postal Service(USPS). Once SEIU received the opt-out letter, SEIU sent employees a letter indicating they had received their opt-out letter letter and then proceeded to send the employees a “Supervisory Opt-Out Designation” form. SEIU then went on to inform employees when they could expect to see their dues deductions stop based on when the employees’ initial letter was received. For many employees, this meant they incurred the expense of sending the requested information back to SEIU, via USPS certified mail a second time. To most it was worth the expense.
For a small group of supervisors however, this process failed them, through no fault of their own. To prevent each member from absorbing the cost of sending their letter via certified mail, all letters were collected, placed in one envelope and sent to SEIU via certified mail, well before the April 30 deadline. Unfortunately, the USPS redirected this envelope to Fresno by mistake. This very important letter eventually made its way to SEIU, but not until after the April 30 deadline. SEIU claims that even though the envelope was postmarked before April 30, it was not received until after April 30 and therefore did not adhere to the requirements of Article 24. Seriously? SEIU has changed the rules through this entire process! As one REAP Board member put it, “Calvinball Rules.”
The “Fresno 7” employees, as they have become known, contacted SEIU 721 and spoke with Wendy Thomas about the issue. The employees explained the situation and asked Wendy Thomas to accept the letters, as the letters were post-marked timely and the employees had no control over the USPS and their unfortunate mistake. Basically, Wendy Thomas’ response was, “Too bad”! Riverside County Human Resources, in an effort to find a solution, contacted SEIU 721. SEIU has been, and continues to be, defiant of the County. It appears SEIU is under the impression the County works for them. At what point does SEIU forget the current MOU is a binding contract between the County and SEIU, not SEIU and the employee?
County HR made notification to SEIU 721 informing them that County HR received complaints from employees stating SEIU failed to accept their opt-out letters and SEIU added steps to the Opt-Out process outlined in Article 24 of the MOU. SEIU 721 Counsel Rebecca Yee, responded to County HR via email stating SEIU’s position with regard to the lost envelope of the “Fresno 7.” Ms. Yee is very clear in her arrogance; a sediment probably shared by several in SEIU circles. Ms. Yee clearly articulates not only her arrogance, but also her unprofessionalism. Ms. Yee’s correspondence demonstrated the “strong-arm tactics” often used by SEIU 721. SEIU 721 used strong-arm tactics when negotiating our last contract and we all know how that turned out. We not only lost wages during the 1-day strike but we lost two years of pay increases that our co-workers in LIUNA received. SEIU 721 does not understand that being the big bully on the playground does not result in better pay and benefits. In fact as we have experienced, it results in the exact opposite.
With the permission of one of those employees, I have attached Ms. Yee’s letter. After you read it, ask yourself, is this the behavior I want to see from my union?
Looking towards the future…