The Business Journal has learned that Long Beach refuse workers and up to 600 employees from a variety of city departments want a vote on whether they should continue to be represented by the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers (IAM). The IAM is the largest city union in Long Beach, representing approximately 3,600 city employees, and is currently negotiating with the city for a new contract.
The two separate groups of employees each filed a “decertification petition” with the city in early October and are waiting to hear from the city’s human resources department as to when a decertification vote by employees will take place.
The Business Journal obtained copies of the petition from the city. One petitioner is Jeff Walker, who is representing 90 employees and whose unit is listed as “refuse basic.” The other petitioner is Victor Serrano, who is representing approximately 600 employees from various city departments who are classified on the petition as “skilled and general services basics.” Both petitioners checked a box on the petition form that read: “Employees desire no representation.”
According to Ken Walker, labor relations manager for the city and no relation to Jeff Walker, a date for a vote has not been determined, nor has the method – in person or through a ballot mailed to members of each petitioning unit. If a majority of those voting in each unit favor decertification, they will no longer be represented by IAM.
The Business Journal reached out to Jeff Walker and Serrano for comment and to find out why the decertification has been requested, but neither petitioner returned our call.
Salvador Vasquez, president of IAM District Lodge 947, which represents city workers, said he would not comment on the decertification. But he did take the opportunity to say, “. . . the city doesn’t appreciate their (IAM) employees” and that “employees here are not paid as much as employees in other cities. You don’t see our people as members of the $100,000 Club,” a reference to the Business Journal’s annual list of city employees with six-figure base salaries. As of last August 1, nearly 27 percent of city employees earn a base salary of $100,000 or more, but the majority of them are sworn personnel.
The petition action taken by the two units is governed under what is known as the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act (Local Public Employee Organizations), Government Code Title 1, Division 4, Chapter 10.