One State Worker's Story and SEIU's Lack of Support

by on May 15, 2010

What happens to California State Employees when management ignores the rights of workers?

A supervisor disregards workers’ rights. SEIU members turned to their union. The response they got was no response at all.

The following report was given to CPPEA by a California state employee who turned to SEIU for help when a supervisor overstepped his authority. Unfortunately, SEIU never provided any assistance to their members, despite repeated requests.

CPPEA has removed names and certain details to protect the employees confidentiality


Approximately 2-3 years ago, our section had a change in supervisors and this new supervisor asked a team of about 30 people for their job descriptions.

This supervisor literally handed out blank Job Description forms, and told his staff to fill in what duties they performed and at what percentage.

Now, Job Descriptions are set by DPA, they can not be unilaterally changed by management, or the State; either (or both) must meet with the Union to modify the Job Description in a “meet-and-confer”.

Since the previous supervisor had our official Job Descriptions somewhere on file (years before, we had been promoted in place under the previous supervisor), and our upper management was openly considering demoting this group of 30 State Workers, and downgrading the position requirements,  there were obvious issues with this group of people filling in their own Job Descriptions.

For example:

  • If this group of 30 didn’t all fill in the exact same description as the official one filed by our previous supervisor years before, then there would be a controversy created over what these positions’ actual needs really were,
  • Or management could say the group was not fulfilling their job requirements,
  • Or management could change the group’s job description by compiling a new job description unilaterally without DPA, or the union’s input (no “meet-and-confer”).

I contacted SEIU and brought this to their attention.  I sent the SEIU representative our management’s email requesting we fill out a Job Description, and the fact that this effected 30+ people was readily apparent due to the address’s on the email.

The SEIU representative agreed with my assessment that this required a “meet-and-confer” with DPA and the Union, and it was only 1-2 days after management’s request, so we were timely with reporting it to SEIU.   This rep took my info, and contacted one other person in this group, that person faxed their copy of the email to this same SEIU representative’s office, and then… nothing!

Workers need a union that responds when neededNeither one of us heard from SEIU again, even though we emailed and called and left messages for this rep several times afterwards!

Neither one of us ever submitted our job description and management never asked again, which in itself seems suspicious, but I did ask SEIU about this on a subsequent visit to the SEIU office, and the person I spoke to had no explanation as to what had happened.   He did admit that he was the SEIU rep I had talked to about the Job Descriptions and the need for a “Meet-and-Confer”. (Hard to deny it, since I was standing right there, and I recognized his name.)

This very obviously required Union involvement, and could have cost our group their hard-fought upgraded positions, yet SEIU dropped the ball in putting Management on the defensive and making us look strong.  This only emboldened management into feeling they had nothing to fear from SEIU.

We are paying the price on a daily basis for SEIU’s lack of representation.


If you have had similar problems with SEIU, you’re not alone!

You can Share Your Story with CPPEA today, and join other California state employees who are demanding honest, effective and accountable Union Representation.

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