The San Bernardino Public Employees Association (SBPEA) has never been known for its political acumen, especially when using members’ dues for political action in hopes of better contracts. Traditionally, it has put the cart before the horse in that it supports anti-labor candidates or candidates with no chance of winning in hopes that with campaign contributions SBPEA will find political favor. More often than not, the strategy fails miserably as evidenced by many years’ worth of bad contracts for its members.
This election cycle, the SBPEA has outdone itself. The organization is supporting Gloria Negrete-McLeod for a seat on the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors over the more conservative, employee-friendly Curt Hagman.
Negrete-McLeod is pro-union. There is no doubt about it. As a matter of fact, she is bought and paid for by the unions and has been since her days in the California Legislature.
And that, under normal circumstances, would be a good thing for the SBPEA. But this is not a normal circumstance.
Negrete-McLeod is bought and paid for by the very union, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), that is launching what may be a successful decertication campaign against the SBPEA. In other words, the SBPEA is assisting the SEIU in SEIU’s effort to rid the county of SBPEA.
SEIU put $500,000 into an independent expenditure to get Negrete-McLeod elected and they are not doing that to keep the SBPEA in place. SEIU is conducting an aggressive campaign to encourage San Bernardino County employees to leave SBPEA and choose SEIU as its bargaining representative.
If the 10,000 or so members of the SBPEA choose to go with SEIU, it will be a windfall to SEIU. The $500,000 is a drop in the bucket in comparison to the dues they will rake in over the period of the next contract.
Some years ago, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors enacted the toughest labor relations ordinance in the state to keep big unions out of county negotiations. That could change and be strengthened in favor of big labor.
If Negrete-McLeod is elected, there is likely to be a three-member voting block—Negrete-McLeod along with the other two democrats, Josie Gonzales and James Ramos—and the once conservatively run county will be a big labor paradise. The smaller independent unions simply will not be able to compete.
Former SBPEA General Manager Bob Blough once said in a public meeting, “I don’t give a crap about the taxpayers and voters.” SBPEA is about to find out the voters don’t care about SBPEA. Their votes will be bought and paid for by SEIU.