Common Ground Nowhere to Be Found
From the desk of President Brown
On Tuesday, July 6, President Richard Louis Brown called the first emergency council meeting of the Board of Directors (BOD) under his leadership. On the agenda were two proposals; one, granting full-time union leave for the three statewide vice presidents and, two, providing financial support for our union brothers and sisters working at the California Correctional Center (CCC) in Susanville.
In April 2021 Governor Gavin Newsom placed the CCC on the chopping block, displacing approximately 300 Local 1000-represented employees and their families. Almost immediately, employees of the CCC began putting their homes up for sale flooding the real estate market. Due to the remoteness of Lassen County and the limited number of well-paying jobs the possibility of finding a ready supply of buyers is unlikely. The local economy will undoubtedly experience a negative impact by the closure of this major employer.
Before the meeting was called to order, President Brown, broadcasting on Facebook Live and Zoom, opened by reading letters written by displaced employees from the CCC. Some on the council took very little time before disrupting the meeting by calling and texting the President’s phone causing the broadcast to break-up and making it difficult to follow. After reading the letters and giving his opening remarks President Brown called the meeting to order, and roll call was taken.
A successful boycott to deny President Brown a quorum and cutting off any attempt to provide assistance to represented members at the CCC was spearheaded by DLC 767 President Richard Wake in an email he sent on July 3. According to the Local 1000 Policy File, 33 BOD members are needed to have a quorum and vote on agenda items.
This walkout by several BOD members also succeeded in denying a vote to grant Local 1000’s three vice presidents full-time union leave. Under President Walker, her three vice presidents had full-time union leave (Local 1000 Policy File 3.1.00, Sept 22, 2015). The Policy file was changed after the 2018 election, granting only the President full-time union leave (Local 1000 Policy File 3.1.00, December 2019) when three candidates from the Members for Transparency and Change slate (MTC) swept the vice president seats.
In the final days of President Walker’s term in office, on June 2, nearly the same group of BOD members rushed to donate $1M to the SEIU State Council, which is working to oppose the recall of Governor Newsom. Despite claims otherwise, the donation of this money came directly from the “Issues” PAC, which is funded through membership dues.
“It is inconceivable that many members on this council, not all, could expedite a $1 million donation to a governor who took almost 10% from state employee paychecks over the last year. Even more so, there is no indication this council asked for anything in return, essentially handing the governor a blank check. It appears very hypocritical that this same group is now refusing to even listen to my proposal and help the employees they claim to represent,” said Brown
A counter-proposal was submitted by DLC 752 President Kevin Healy and co-signed by other DLC Presidents. This substitute motion stated the State of California should be entirely responsible for mitigating any adverse effects to our displaced represented employees and opposed setting aside any money for CCC employees. Despite being informed of the state’s intention to close this facility several months ago, no agenda item and no action had been taken by any member of this BOD prior to Tuesday’s emergency BOD meeting.
President Brown has expressed unambiguously, “Despite all the hyperbole, my opposition to supporting politicians has absolutely nothing to do with political party. This is first and foremost a labor union. We should be putting all our energy towards supporting the people we claim to represent.”
The closing of the emergency BOD meeting tallied 28 council members who returned for roll call. No vote was taken. To our represented employees, below is the Oath of Office all BOD members take upon assuming their leadership role.
SEIU Local 1000 Board of Directors Pledge
I, (insert name), pledge my word and honor, that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office to which I have been elected, in accordance with the rules of Local 1000, and to the best of my ability, carry out the plans and programs of the union, help build unity, strength and participation among members in the union, in the workplace, in our communities and in the political arena and purchase union label goods and use union services whenever they can be obtained.
The boycott by many on this BOD speaks volumes. No context is needed.