SBCO Seal

By Joe Nelson, The Sun
Posted: 06/12/14, 6:59 PM PDT | Updated: 13 secs ago

SAN BERNARDINO >> A Superior Court judge on Thursday granted a restraining order against Service Employees International Union Local 721 on behalf of the San Bernardino County Public Employees Association.

The order, issued by Judge Thomas Peterson, temporarily barred SEIU Local 721 from using the personal information of SBPEA members including phone numbers, addresses and emergency contact information. SEIU Local 721 has been backing robo calls to SBPEA members, encouraging them to vote “no” on a proposed contract and push for new union representation, according to SBPEA members unhappy with their representation.

Animosity has erupted between the two unions since SEIU’s solicitation of SBPEA members for representation.

At a May 14 board meeting, SBPEA attorney Dennis Hayes told union members, many of who held signs reading “San Bernardino County Employee for SEIU721,” that talking to SEIU representatives was against SBPEA’s bylaws. The meeting quickly devolved to a shouting match, then abrupt adjournment, when some members became enraged when they were not afforded an opportunity to speak.

Tensions continued the following week, when a ballot counter made an obscene gesture to a union member who he said was egging him on.

The proposed contract encourages SBPEA members to approve a contract that 15 other bargaining units have already agreed to, including county firefighters and sheriff’s deputies. It includes the elimination of the 7 percent county pickup of employees’ share of retirement contributions, a 50 percent reduction in step increases and increased health care costs.

According to findings and recommendations by appointed mediator David B. Hart, nearly a fourth of the 11,850 county employees represented by the SBPEA, about 3,700, are already paying their entire employee contribution and will not be affected by the elimination of the county retirement pickup. Furthermore, the 7 percent retirement pickup is not equivalent to a 7 percent salary reduction, given adjustments made for tax purposes, and the agreement allows employees to cash out up to 60 hours of accrued vacation time for the following year, so long as they used at least 80 hours of vacation time in the preceding year.

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