The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

July 20, 2012
Only about 5 percent of SEIU Local 1000 voted for furlough ratification

120508 Yvonne Walker 2008 brian baer.JPGAbout 5 percent of the 93,000 workers represented by SEIU Local 1000 voted for a recent agreement with Gov. Jerry Brown that included a new round of furloughs for one year.

According to union sources familiar with the June 27 vote, 7,223 members cast ballots. Local 1000 officials didn't respond to several requests to confirm or deny the number. On July 3 the unions did announce that 65.76 percent of the votes supported the agreement. That means 4,750 Local 1000 members supported the deal.

The side-letter ratification process was unusual for several reasons.

The union wasn't obligated to send the agreement out for rank-and-file approval since it was a side-letter deal and not a renegotiation of the entire contract. Then the union refused to publicly commit to following the result if members rejected it.

When voting on a labor contract, Local 1000 and other unions usually send out ratification ballots by mail and give members several days to return them. This time, the union announced it had reached an agreement on June 23 and then held a one-day election at 82 polling places around the state four days later. The union said it had to speed up the process because furloughs were supposed to begin on the July 1 start of the 2012-13 fiscal year.

Whether any of that that suppressed turnout isn't clear.

Voter participation in Local 1000 elections is usually low. During a Local 1000 union hall meeting in Sacramento before the agreement was announced, President Yvonne Walker last month encouraged members to turn out to vote on the deal.

"But I will tell you, in previous contracts, even full contracts, we have not had more than 10 percent of our membership vote on the contracts," Walker said during the June 9 meeting. "So I hope this time around we will have more people stand up and vote."

Apparently, that didn't happen.

PHOTO: SEIU Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker / 2008 Sacramento Bee file

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at jortiz@sacbee.com.

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