(Note: An earlier version of this article first appeared on the Business Journal’s website on November 30. It has been updated to reflect new informaiton introduced in the current edition.)
The Business Journal learned last week that a third group of city employees petitioned to be decertified from the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers (IAM). About 100 city workers from the skilled and general supervisors unit joined two other units, representing nearly 700 employees, asking for a vote to leave the union. The three units combined account for more than 22 percent of the nearly 3,600 City of Long Beach workers represented by IAM.
The story was first reported in the November 24 edition of the Business Journal. As of press time, no date has been set for a vote. In order to decertify, it takes 50 percent plus one of the members who are voting within each of the three units.
The two units that previously submitted a decertification petition are the refuse workers (known as the refuse basic unit), with about 90 members, and the skilled and general services basics unit, representing about 600 workers in various city departments. The latter group had 300 people sign the petition asking for a vote.
A city employee favoring decertification called the Business Journal last week to claim the IAM is sending union members out to intimidate those who support decertification. The caller, who would not identify himself, said, “They’re following people home, waiting outside their houses until 10 p.m.” He indicated that one of the reasons workers are seeking decertification is that the IAM is not representing them “and has had only two reps on [the union] staff when we’re paying for four. They added two more, but they just did that. They’re using our money for other things.” Asked about the intimidation, he said, “It’s getting ugly.”
The petition filed by the supervisors included the following statement as to why they are seeking decertification: “We hereby go on record stating that the International Association of Machinist and Aerospace Worker Local 1930 District 947 are no longer fairly representing the interest of our bargaining unit when it comes to meeting and conferring/negotiating with The City of Long Beach on wages, hours and other terms and conditions of employment. They have not accurately represented our unit at the bargaining table in the recently [sic] years of contract negotiations.”
The Business Journal also obtained a flyer headlined, “Vote the I.A.M. Out,” outlining several reasons why employees should vote to leave the union. One point raised is that the “IAM received about $500,000 in dues from the departments on the petition, yet they did not fight hard enough during compensation negotiations so that we may receive fair wages.” The flyer further pointed out that, “The IAM agreed with 3% one-time payoff instead of getting us a salary increase, which will affect our CalPERS. Managers, Police and the Fire Department got an increase in their salary, not a one-time payoff.”
The IAM is one of nine unions representing City of Long Beach employees. If one or more of the units approves decertification, it will mark the first time such action has occurred among city unions.