Bargaining Unit 3 February 2016 Newsletter


Union Participation

(Or, What Happens To Me If the Union Disappears?)

Part 3 of 3


Sacramento, CA (AP) “Fiorina Repeals Dills Act”

         With former governors Wilson, Schwarzenegger and Whitman looking on, California Governor Carly Fiorina signed legislation repealing a number of statutes all of which had made collective bargaining possible for public sector employees, effectively dissolving over half a century of labor law in the State of California.  Also on her desk to be signed were bills that rescinded the contracts with all unions except those representing the State’s law enforcement and corrections officers and rescinding the prohibition on the private contracting of state services.

         When asked what attributed to the successful effort to make the state “Right to Work,” to a person, all four governors gave credit to the recent Supreme Court decisions.  “The Citizens United decision allowed massive spending by ‘Right to Work’ organizations and the ‘CTA v. Friedrichs’ decision ended collection of fair share fees, weakening unions to the point that they could no longer represent employees. What few actual members remained could not influence the election of labor friendly candidates,” said Fiorina.

As illustrated  in the mock article above, choices have consequences.  I have made good decisions. I have made bad decisions. And, for each, the consequences have been commensurate with the choice made.  So it is for us as a group.  Our collective choices affect all of us.  The consequence could be good, as in winning a contract that provides satisfying compensation and working conditions, or it could result in dire circumstances as described in the opening paragraphs. 

Individually and collectively, we have a responsibility to ourselves and those important to us to make the best choice we can, based on the information we decide to take in. 

There is power in numbers.  I cannot negotiate a contract on my own, especially if I am the only person doing the bargaining.  I have to show why I am worth what I am asking for.  What are the chances that I will be successful?  I would have to say “not very” certainly not when I’m opposed by an employee pool willing to work for whatever the prospective employer offers.

I’ve been there; it’s not a pretty picture, especially if you have a family to feed.

Again, the phrase “Never underestimate the power of a large group of people,” comes to mind.  Why?  Simply because the truth of another cliché is demonstrated in it:  “The people, united, can never be defeated!”

This will be the case as we go into bargaining for a new contract this year.  Full union membership will demonstrate our resolve to achieve the goals that have been established to improve not only our quality of life, but also our working conditions. 

If you are not a full member, I encourage you to become one!  Full membership gives you two important benefits:  first, your inclusion on the membership rolls demonstrates to the state your resolve to obtain the best contract possible.  Second, you have the right to vote on the contract, allowing your feelings on the negotiated contract to be heard.



During the past few months, I have been touring institutions throughout the state that do not have representation through their DLCs at the Statewide Bargaining Advisory Council (SBAC).

One experience shows clearly the challenges faced by members in our bargaining unit.  On my recent visit to Pleasant Valley State Prison, I met teachers contending with the result of the state’s deferred maintenance program.  There were only a few classrooms which hosted students in the normal program because the ceilings in the rest of the classrooms had collapsed, and the inmate porters were busy mopping up the water that had poured through poorly maintained roofs.

To those of you who have not yet had the opportunity to visit one of the six Starbase Academies, I’m working on that!  I’m working with Claudia Gambaro to nail down the locations of the Academies.  Tim Zeismer:  I’m trying to work a visit in to your particular location for my next visit to Southern California.



John Kern recently accepted a new position at Folsom State Prison, spearheading a program being jointly developed by the Office of Correctional Education and the University of California, Davis.  The program – “Sustainable Environmental Ecological Design” -  teaches drought–resistant landscaping.  John has been appointed as the District Bargaining Unit Representative (DBUR) for Unit 3 in DLC 769. 

Speaking for the unit, I extend our congratulations and best wishes to John on this new project.



By now you have all heard of the “Bargaining Town Hall” meetings that will be conducted throughout the state.  Please RSVP to the one most convenient for you.  Why not get a group together to attend?  There will be a member of the Bargaining Unit Negotiating Committee (BUNC) present at each one to listen to your specific concerns.  You will also be given a passcode to access the Bargaining Survey and make your comments known. 

If you have comments or questions, please contact me or any of the DBURs.

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:

Chair: 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)


BU 3 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.