Thank you Ben Franklin for those wise words.
Many people believe that labor unions are in bed with the politicians they negotiate with. I’m not here to say that never happens, but I am here to say that there are representative organizations here locally allowing that perception to continue with cause. Giving labor unions who are trying to work in not only their own, but a community’s best interest, a bad name through the actions of a representative group.
South Bay Labor Council (SBLC) has made their endorsements for the upcoming June election public. They have, despite multiple labor unions stepping forward to endorse a pro-future, pro-community, pro-worker candidate, Kevin Jensen, and asking SBLC to do the same, endorsed the candidate who has done damage to the labor force and the communities they serve. Despite SBLC’s chosen candidate causing a hostile work environment, an unsafe work environment, an environment seething with fear of retribution for the smallest perceived slight to the leadership, they have endorsed her for another 4 years. SBLC is, amazingly, an organization where the “leader” uses the moniker “WorkerVoice” for his twitter account and has chosen to all but kick the workers in the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s office and their representative unions despite being directly approached with a litany of reasons to support Kevin Jensen over SBLC’s current choice.
Vote trading. Political promises. Back room deals. Whatever you want to call it, it’s there and it is not in the public or tax payer’s best interest. The SBLC board members, according to reports from witnesses, publicly stated at their candidates night that they had to support Laurie Smith because she had supported their council’s (not their affiliated unions, their council’s) political efforts in the past.
Laurie Smith said it all in her letters to the CPOA and the DSA: “Let me be clear, I am in a very strong political position…,” she stated in one letter. Now we know exactly what she meant, thanks to SBLC and their actions that are clearly motivated by political promises and tradeoffs rather than worker related issues they claim to be their driving force.
Nevermind that their candidate of choice, Laurie Smith, has hurt labor. That’s not the point of the SCCDSA and the SCCCPOA’s endorsement for Kevin Jensen. What is relevant is that she is hurting the taxpayer. She is neglecting victims of crime. She is undermining the health of law enforcement in the county as a whole and you can see by her opponent’s endorsements, that pretty much the entire law enforcement community, labor and leadership, in the county supports change by electing Kevin Jensen. Both PORAC, the largest peace officer association in the state, and their division, Central Coast PORAC have even endorsed Kevin Jensen. You would think that among all the highlighted problems, the organization claiming to be the voice of labor would back the labor groups at the very least for what is being done to the work environment if not for the public good of the community as a whole.
Who exactly does South Bay Labor Council support? Labor? Community? Or politicians they make promises too in the back rooms where a different set of priorities than benefits the public is used? They claim their “…primary goal is to advance candidates, causes, and policies that benefit working families.” Clearly this action shows that they are advancing their own interests, regardless of the interests of working families, working communities and safe communities.
What are they telling all their other unions? That if your working interests don’t match out political interests, we’re going to happily throw you under the bus? I wonder how the workers feel about that.
The public doesn’t understand when groups like SBLC engage in purely political games for themselves — the people blame it on the unions, regardless of what the unions wanted, they’re voice gets lost. Imagine, a labor union representing the workers bowing down to the same political consultant that crudely labeled hard-working law enforcement employees as “Keystone Kops” when they released their endorsement for Kevin Jensen for Sheriff. Oh, that’s right, we don’t have to imagine… that’s exactly what South Bay Labor Council does, they literally use Sheriff Smith’s political consultant as a significant voice to speak to their labor community. Well, we know exactly what he thinks of the average worker now, don’t we. We can safely assume, since there has been no comment nor any repercussions to candidate or consultant, that SBLC endorses that “Keystone Kops” comment along with their candidate endorsement.
I hope that the 80-odd unions that fall under the SBLC umbrella understand that they have been backdoored and that they choose to stand up and endorse the right candidate directly and independent of SBLC. If unions want to get out from under the perception that they are “in bed” with politicians against the good will of the public, they need to stand up to organizations like SBLC and their policy of politics first, workers and community last.