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Coachella Valley Water District General Employees July 2013 News

Association Files to Decertify SEIU and Recognize our Own, Independent Union
On July 1, 2013, our Association submitted its petition to the District to decertify SEIU and certify the CVWD General Employee Association as our new exclusive representative. This change will allow our members to control our own finances, our legal staff, our policies and our own contract negotiations. The petition was deliberately filed on the day after the MOU between SEIU and the District expired. Our steering committee has been working with staff at CEA for several weeks to implement this change in our representation. At a meeting at the Elks Club on June 25th those members who were present elected some interim officers (Carol Pfannkuche, Gary McCain, Randy Vorster, James Mongee and Brenda Barlett) approved some bylaws, and began circulating cert and decert petitions. Those petitions have now been signed by nearly 50% of the members of our unit! The Districts next step will be to contact the State Mediation Service to conduct a representational election. We know that at least one other big union is ALSO filing to represent us, so this will be a hotly contested election. We hope to facilitate a debate between our staff at CEA and the leaders of that Union in the near future. The question will be: What is the best option for our members? Another International Union or an Independent, local labor organization? We promise to make sure everyone is invited. The decert process will take at least two months. However, once the CVWDGEA is recognized as our new representative we will immediately be able to formally elect officers, take over contract negotiations and help our members with work-related problems. During this interim period, the staff at CEA have offered to assist anyone with a work-problem or grievance, free of charge. Feel free to contact them at 562-433-6983 or You may also access their Know Your Rights Library at The staff at CEA (Director, Robin Nahin, attorneys Jeff Natke, Brian Niehaus and Nora Verceles; and field reps Mike Gaskins, Andy Lotrich and Mary LaPlante) will also be happy to answer your questions about labor and employment law, or how the decertification process.

We promise to provide more information as soon as we have it. If you are a general employees at CVWD and have NOT yet signed the decert petition, please contact our staff at CEA or ANY of the interim officers. They can email you the petition. We want EVERYONE in our bargaining unit to know EVERYTHING about our process, and to become involved. If you have already signed the petition, Thanks for your support!

AB646 Revolutionizes Bargaining in the Public Sector; How the New Fact Finding Law Can Help YOUR Union Fight Takeaways!
In February, 2012, the Public Employment Relations Board held forums to enable lawyers, union reps and managers of public agencies to submit their ideas about how AB646 will be administered. AB646 is the new law, allowing labor organizations to call for fact finding in negotiations before their employer can impose a last best offer. Predictably, labor and management differed wildly in their recommendations about how the law should be interpreted. The two big questions are 1) To which agencies does the new law apply? And 2) Is fact-finding available even if the agencys impasse procedure doesnt provide for mediation? In general, the PERB staff came down on the side of labor, providing broad application of the law so it will be useful to almost ANY union in upcoming (tough) negotiations. Heres a summary. Under the new law, if/when your Association reaches an impasse in its bargaining with the District, it will be able to submit a request for factfinding to PERB; PERB will determine whether the declaration of impasse is sufficient, and will provide a list of fact-finders within five days. Then the parties will have five working days to select a neutral chair, or PERB will appoint one. Then, once a panel is selected, the parties are supposed to meet within 10 days, after which the fact-finders are supposed to render findings within 30 days. The whole process is supposed to move fairly swiftly because it now hinders Managements ability to unilaterally impose changes in your MOU. It really can help Associations slow down, if not stop, the more belligerent and unreasonable strain of Management

What Does the Law Say; Who Does It Apply to?

AB646 modifies the California Labor Code [section 3505.5(e)] such that all but a few public agencies can be compelled to participate in fact finding IF THE UNION REQUESTS. The law is NOW in effect. The only agencies that are exempted are those that already have binding arbitration built into their impasse procedures: the City and County of San Francisco

Why Does this Law Matter So Much?

Hopefully, you can see why Fact Finding in your negotiations can be a very big deal. Most public sector bargaining since 2009 has been takeaway bargaining. When the two sides havent been able to agree on a new Contract, employers have had the capacity to declare impasse, and then, with little obstruction, take what they want. Fact-finding gives the union the opportunity to explore the truth of their employers claims of poverty, ask questions about how the poverty is being spread equitably across the