More than 1,500 public workers in Contra Costa County decided to switch to a union whose officials cite better results in labor negotiations, but the former union’s officials say these members were misled.
County workers in health services, general maintenance and licensed vocational nurse units joined the Teamsters Local 856 as the result of a decisive vote, according to Teamsters officials.
Eighty-five percent of the votes favored joining Teamsters Local 856 over remaining with Public Employees Union Local 1. Two-thirds of eligible employees participated in the vote, which came about due to petitions filed by the union in October.
“The high participation level in the election and overwhelming vote in favor of the Teamsters is a loud statement that things need to change at the county,” said Peter Finn, Teamsters Local 856’s principal officer.
Founded as the Contra Costa County Employees Association, Public Employees Union Local 1 has also had members leave for Teamsters in cities such as Orinda and Concord as well as the Mt. Diablo Unified School District, according to Teamsters officials.
“In each of those examples, we ended up delivering results at the bargaining table,” Finn said. Richard Boyd, director of field operations with Public Employees Union Local 1, lamented the Teamsters Local 856 is focusing efforts away from a union’s traditional mission to organize unorganized laborers.
“Teamsters decided to cannibalize another union, knowing full well there’s no way that they’ll be able to fulfill the promises they’ve made to these members,” Boyd said.
“So now these workers will be traumatized not only by their employer, but also their union,” he added.
Boyd said he believed the situation was indicative of shortcomings in organized labor today.
As for the vote’s result, Boyd expressed that “it was not unexpected.”
“(But) it was saddening,” Boyd said. “However, we’re going to move forward with a new sense of organization and commitment.”