County Workers

Is SEIU Local 998 a monopoly?

If you accept a job for the county of Ventura, you are required to join SEIU either as a "dues paying" or "non-dues-paying" member. Non-dues-paying members are still required to pay a fee to SEIU. If you do not want to pay the fee, you do not get the job.

SEIU was on strike July 18-25. During this time I was informed that since I was a dues-paying member, if I chose to go to work I would be "fined" for crossing the picket line. I therefore supported my union and was out on the picket line. All this time, we were taking leave without pay while SEIU Local 998 was still getting our $7.13 for the week we were off work.

Being on strike meant no income in my household and the households of many other county employees, but we backed our union. My union representative explained to me that the union would be able to help out members using a hardship fund for rent and bills. But I was informed I did not qualify for the fund.

So what would disqualify a member? 1) If you had a 401K plan you could borrow against. I thought my 401K was for retirement, not a strike. 2) If you had worked longer than 10 years, you were expected to cash in your vacation hours for pay.

Where is the proof anyone actually received this assistance?

SEIU will be fining all members who crossed the picket line approximately $100 a day for each day crossed. What do they plan to do with that money? Maybe SEIU Executive Director Barry Hammitt can pay our rent or electricity with his $150,000-a-year salary.

I was always told that unions are good and will fight for you. So far, the only thing it has done for its members was giving us a 401K in lieu of a 5% cost-of-living increase each year. SEIU bargained with the county more than five years ago to take our yearly cost-of-living increase from us.

On top of all we have lost, SEIU is having a picnic and would like our support to sell tickets. Are they insane? We don't have money for food on our tables, let alone a picnic. SEIU has 4,200 "dues-paying" members at $28.50 a month, totaling $1.4 million a year. Not to mention all "non-dues-paying" members who still have to pay roughly $24 a month. Where is this money going?

SEIU has a monopoly with the county that must be stopped.

Don't expect to see me on any future picket lines for the support of SEIU. Maybe one day something will be done about the control of SEIU over Ventura County employees.

Tonya Peters


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