Bargaining Unit 3 December 2015 Newsletter
Union Participation (Or What Happens To Me If the Union Disappears?) Part 2


Many of our new teachers come from environments that have portrayed unions as a bad influence on the political and social landscape. They have not learned that the United States is a free society because of the existence of strong unions and an educated middle class.  Many don’t have the influence of friends or family, who have known someone injured in a factory or mill because of unsafe machinery.  Many don’t know about the work and time it took to influence changes in laws and to develop the structure of the modern day unions.

Realizing that unions have a place in the scheme of things, I became a full member during my first year of state employment.  Then, after a period of “What has the union done for me lately?” I decided to put my money where my mouth was and became a steward, then a District Bargaining Unit Representative (DBUR). 

My period of “What has the union done…” began after the ratification of the salary changes for teachers in 2007 along with the imposition of the fixed academic calendar, loss of education leave and vacation accrual.  Of course, Arnold Schwarzenegger and his furlough program didn’t make matters any better.  It was during this period that two people – Don Stone, a staff organizer for Northern California and John Kern, the then-newly elected chair of Bargaining Unit 3 – just happened to enter the picture. 

Don says that I really gave him the “Stink Eye” when we first met at a District Labor Council meeting in Susanville.  However, because we were both veterans, I gave him the benefit of the doubt when he asked for volunteers to support some small, local actions.  John Kern on the other hand, was a different story.  While I don’t actually recall our first meeting, I do remember that I did tell him that the teachers up in Susanville didn’t really believe that we were represented well by the union.  And I told him that this was because we believed that the union only represented the major urban areas  because that’s where all the jobs were concentrated.   John challenged me: if I could get the members out, he’d get President Walker to Susanville.  I said “Yeah… okay,” and let it go at that.  Well, long story short, he did, she did, and with the help of DLC 792 President Diana King, we did. 

Since then, we’ve had several large meetings in the North State that have had good attendance by membership and State Officers.  DLC 792 has become active on behalf of its members, and we’ve recently split into two DLCs with DLC 795 becoming one of the new DLCs in the state. 

I’ve been involved in organizing and representation matters throughout the state.  Working with Don Stone and others to promote Governor Brown’s Proposition 30 and get the message out about how bad Proposition 32 – The Paycheck Protection Act – would be if it passed, and serving on the Joint Labor Management Committee that advised the Office of Correctional Education on what teachers would like to see in the academic calendar.  I joined with other union leaders who worked to mitigate the impact of the implementation of the CDCR’s “Enhanced Drug and Contraband Interdiction Program.”

I’ve told you all that…to tell you this – an effective union depends on active members at every level!  

I want you all to know that the assembled DBURs worked to begin the development of our goals and strategies for the upcoming contract negotiations in 2016 when we met in San Jose on the 14th and 15th of November. There will be more information as time progresses.


Our congratulations go out to the California Schools for the Deaf in Fremont and Riverside.  Many of you may have seen the article in the November Union Update that featured CSD Teacher and DBUR Sulghi Hong, for their activities at the CSD Fremont Homecoming game in support of their coaches who are woefully underpaid via the stipend they receive to defray the expenses they incur when taking their teams on the road.

By the way, did you know that the athletic program at CSD Fremont was showcased by ESPN this fall?  Is it fair that these coaches of a nationally recognized program are treated in such a disgraceful manner?  I bet Nick Saban or Jim Harbaugh wouldn’t be treated this way.

 Our Unit includes about a thousand correctional librarians and teachers, about four hundred State Special Schools educators, about a hundred teachers in hospitals and developmental centers, about a dozen teachers in the Orientation Center for the Blind and a handful of teachers working in the Starbase Academy program, employed by the California Military Department.

BU 3 members can communicate with their bargaining team though their locally-elected District Bargaining Unit Representative (DBUR).  To get in touch with a DBUR or for any other type of union information, please call the SEIU 1000 Member Resource Center at 866.471.SEIU (7348).  BU 3 also has an email address:

Your BUNC consists of the following DBUR’s:

Chairman:  Bruce Theel, High Desert State Prison, Susanville, CA (CDCR)

Vice Chair:  John Kern    (CDCR)

Alt. Vice Chair: Suzanne Knapp (CDCR)

BUNC Member:  Terry Hibbard (CDCR)

BUNC Member:  Sulghi Hong (CDE)