SACRAMENTO – Assemblywoman Shannon Grove has introduced legislation to address the frustrations of disenfranchised public union workers who came to her seeking help to make unions more accountable to their members. These individuals include members of SEIU Local 1000, the Fresno County Public Safety Association, the Regional Employees Association of Professionals, to name a few. Grove’s two union reform bills, AB 2753 and AB 2754, would require public employee unions to be transparent with how they spend union dues, and a simplified process for union members to affirm or replace the union that represents them.
Union choice and transparency are almost impossible for its members because of the stranglehold public unions have on power. Grove’s bills will change this dynamic.
“Americans rightfully demand transparency and accountability from their government officials,” said Assemblywoman Shannon Grove. “Why shouldn’t public union workers expect the same from their unions?”
The first, AB 2753, would require California’s public employee unions to post an itemized version of its budget online, making it accessible for its members. The second bill, AB 2754, would require public unions to hold an election every two years to determine if the current labor union should continue to represent its members. The election would also allow workers to select another public employee union to take its place.
One of those union workers demanding more accountability is Mariam Noujaim, a SEIU 20-year member and an employee with the Department of Motor Vehicles in Sacramento. She has been trying for the past three years to find out how her union, SEIU Local 1000, is spending the nearly $60 million in revenue it collects each year. After filing a lawsuit against them, she was only able to see small sample of their records, but was not allowed to make copies.
“I am not against the original idea of a union representing the rights, wages, and benefits of working members,” Noujaim said. “Unfortunately, with the huge amount of money they have been taking from workers, the union bosses act as if it is their money to do with whatever they please.” (Read more of Noujaim’s story here.)
Rick Gay was once a steward for SEIU 721 in the Inland Empire, but ended up joining a competing employee association, the Regional Employees Association of Professionals (REAP), after becoming dissatisfied with SEIU tactics of “deceit and underhandedness.” REAP has tried to become a recognized county labor organization, but even after meeting all the required criteria, Gay said the county still refused to recognize them.
“Unions have a stranglehold on our political system, and a complete, unfair advantage,” Gay explained. “No one body should have this much influence and power. There needs to be a legitimate alternative to removing bad organizations… . Unions, like politicians, should be re-elected on their merit not how deep their pocket books are.” (Read more of Gay’s story here.)
The two bills will then be heard in the Committee on Public Employees, Retirement, and Social Security in the Capitol Hearing Room #444 at 9:30 a.m.
- A coalition of public labor union reformers put together the following video to advocate for union choice and transparency.
- Here is the contact information for some of union members featured in this video:
- Rick Gay, Interim President, REAP - Regional Employees Association of Professionals, (951) 660-0496, Rick@reap4us.org, www.reap4us.org (Rick Gay’s story)
- Eulalio Gomez, President of Fresno County Public Safety Association (FCPSA), (559) 681-3384, email@example.com
- Mariam Noujaim, Member SEIU Local 1000, (916) 834-8916, Themighty1@comcast.net, www.UnionTransparency.com, www.SEIUngo.com (Mariam Noujaim’s story)
- Lisa Garcia, Member SEIU Local 1000, (916) 893-4449, Lgarcia916@yahoo.com, www.UnionTransparency.com (Lisa Garcia’s story)
- Mark F. Goudy, Sacramento Probate, (916) 448-4980, mfgoudy@GoudyLaw.com
More information about the fight for union transparency can be found at www.uniontransparency.com and a petition website has been set up at www.transparencyandchoice.com for supporters of Grove’s Union Reform bills.