I’ve been trying to write this post for two weeks. Part of it will be familiar to those of you who saw my response to someone who took me to task for my article on the contract. But I am also expanding in a lot of the areas as well.
I will give you my background first. I started with the county in 1980 and retired in 2013. I was an employee rep from 1998 or 1999 until 2006 when I was kicked out of the union for voicing my concerns about Bob Blough’s financial dealings, lack of decent representation, etc. The “kicked out” was not so much about my outspokenness. I won a seat on the board of directors and it was the only way Blough could think of to keep me from seeing the books, which I had been denied to see as a member. He came up with phony charges and the BOD at the time went along with it.
All of that being said, I don’t know if it is still on line but back 2006 I wrote an article for The Voice. Part of the premise was that unions must bargain from a position of strength, not a position of weakness. SBPEA has always bargained from a position of weakness and that can be chalked up to two things: member apathy and lack of a responsible political action plan.
It does not matter if the employees look greedy or not. Talk radio, other media, the Tea Party, and county leaders have set the narrative on this one. Employees are greedy. Perception is reality no matter the truth. And union employees are perceived as being greedy. Just ask John and Ken.
The bottom line is that at this time the Teamsters are, in fact, bargaining from a position of weakness. They are trying to change that. But they cannot change their position without the help of the employees they represent.
If this were a regular contract I would be screaming from the rooftop to reject it. But it is not. It is the best offer you are going to get, like it or not. So use it to your advantage and use those four years to write your own narrative.
Elect members of the board of supervisors that understand that attracting warehouse jobs by claiming that companies can pay low wages without benefits is not in anyone’s best interest. Elect members who are employee friendly, not just to county employees, but to the whole concept that if someone works 40 hours a week in a decent job they should be able to support a family and provide medical coverage for their children without the aid of public assistance.
In other words, if you want a decent contract in four years, you must take action NOW. Do not allow your union to support Supervisor Robert Lovingood or Supervisor Janice Rutherford. There are still some Bob Blough proteges who are more interested in getting invited to the Fifth Floor than in negotiating good contracts for employees. Those proteges both work for SBPEA and are on the board of directors. Take the time to find out who they are and DEMAND they be removed. Don’t allow these few individuals to undermine all that the Teamsters is trying to do for you to get you better contracts. If you hear anyone at SBPEA say anything positive about Lovingood or Rutherford or suggest support or PAC donations to either, you know you are dealing with a Bob Blough protege. GET THEM OUT OF OFFICE!!!!!
Lovingood and Rutherford have nothing, and I MEAN NOTHING, but contempt for county employees. Heck, Lovingood owns a temp service and would like nothing better than to make all government employees temporary, minimum wage employees with no benefit. He has long loathed county employees, long before he was elected to the First District. Rutherford shows her contempt for county employees at each and every meeting. Her unwavering support of Greg Devereaux and the way he treats employees proves it.
Take those four years to educate the public why all of these minimum wage, part-time warehouse jobs the county touts as “bringing in jobs” are detrimental to everyone’s way of life. It hurts our county as a whole.
Take those four years to educate the media that county employees work hard and only want a fair wage for a full day’s work.
Take those four years to demand that the board of supervisors replace unelected county bureaucrats with those that have a real vision for helping this county to prosper. If they grow this county by bringing in higher paying private sector jobs, there will be a greater demand for real estate and for services. County revenues will increase and that means raises will be easier to come by.
And finally, use those four years to build your union so that it is bargaining from a position of strength rather than weakness. The union will never be in a place to negotiate good contracts if employees don’t support it and get involved through the term of the contract rather just when a proposal has been placed on the table.