The Bee in Democracy
I’d like to profoundly thank the Sacramento Bee Editorial Board for finding the time to comment on my attempts to rein in political partisan/social justice spending in what was a mostly inflammatory and hyperbole-filled November 8, 2021, editorial.
Now it’s my turn to clearly and comprehensively set the record straight. As the Bee stated, I am the duly-elected president of SEIU Local 1000, and I am creating a new culture of excellence for the largest public sector union in California. Per the SEIU Local 1000 Policy File and Bylaws, the meeting of some of our Board members that occurred in October to strip me of my powers and sanctimoniously elect a “chair” was unsanctioned, out of order, and therefore clearly meaningless.
It is unfortunate the Bee Editorial Board would lend any type of merit or remote credence to an undemocratic, self-righteous, and elitist coup within the largest union for state workers in California. It’s highly irresponsible at best, dangerous at worse, and a complete dereliction of journalistic integrity by our capitol newspaper, but we must always remember that selling papers by marginalizing real labor leaders is what this paper does best!
It doesn’t matter how many people vote in an election. The results stand. As the duly-elected president of SEIU Local 1000, it is my responsibility to bring a new culture to an organization as required by those who voted for me. And make no mistake; a new culture is sorely needed and will be delivered regardless of the critics.
Membership has been falling for four years, so the chaos was here well before I arrived on the scene. The previous SEIU Local 1000 president found her authentic voice by NOT allowing statewide officers to attend meetings, let alone access information or receive full-time union leave to do jobs they were elected to do. Decisions per Local 1000 practice were often made in dark rooms with no transparency or accountability. Staff hadn’t received raises or promotions since 2006. Turnover was out-of-control. We were consistently failing to adequately represent our members, empower state workers, and enforce our contract, such as I did by protecting Lassen County!
Since June 30, 2021, with no transition period, I, along with my Chief of Staff, have engineered an organizational restructuring to prioritize the quality of representation we provide to members. I’m posting all of our meetings online for anyone and everyone to see. I immediately promoted many well deserving staff members who have been disrespected for years in recognition of their hard work, and I also negotiated a great contract with our staff’s union that included wage increases of 14% over 3 years…and added Juneteenth as a paid holiday!
Clearly, the members who elected me wanted to end the status quo of supporting partisan social justice politics while we lose money. All SEIU Local 1000 represented employees—not just those who voted for me— expect the will of the majority to be respected and for elections results to mean something. As we saw on the national stage in 2020, promoting misinformation and attacking democratic ideals are tactics that are as dangerous as they are un-American.
In light of all this, I ask the Sacramento Bee Editorial Board to truly re-examine itself, its place in American democracy, and in news reporting. Do your readers a favor and simply do your journalistic due diligence. Do yourself a favor and inquisitively investigate and properly research SEIU Local 1000. Somehow discover within your core inner self the ability to speak the righteous truth and courageously command an understanding of the facts about the union I lead.
I know where my place is in American democracy. It’s right where I’ve been elected to serve—with SEIU Local 1000 represented state employees, protecting their livelihoods—and their vote.
Thanks for caring,
Richard Louis Brown
President, SEIU Local 1000