A look at CSEUnited
According to their website, www.cseunited.org, "California State Employees United (CSEU) is a group of current and retired state employees who have come together to help strengthen the California State Employees Association (CSEA) and its affiliates from within."
If you send an email to the email address on the website it will be answered by Ed Perez, the northern region coordinator for CSEU. According to Perez, "CSEU (also called CSEUnited) started as a group organizing for the Local 1000 election in May of 2005."
The former Civil Service Division of the California State Employees Association (CSEA) is now named SEIU Local 1000. Like CSUEU, local 1000 is one of the four affiliated organizations that now make up CSEA.
Jim Hard was re-elected president of SEIU Local 1000 in that May 2005 election, while his No. 2, Secretary-Treasurer Cathy Hackett, appeared to narrowly lose her bid to return to office to State Compensation Insurance Fund employee Kathleen Collins, 3,623 to 3,797. Collins was a CSEU endorsed candidate. On July 5, Kathleen Collins, accompanied by some members of the Local 1000 Council, reported to CSEA headquarters. She was sworn in by CSEA statewide president J.J. Jelincic as the new Local 1000 Secretary-Treasurer and as a member of the CSEA Board of Directors.
Both Hard and Hackett are also leaders in another group in local 1000 called the Caucus for a Democratic Union [Link to related story] (CDU). The CDU has been around for about a decade. It was once described by the Union Democracy Review, a bi-monthly publication of the Association for Union Democracy as, "a reform caucus working for more democracy in CSEA." Also according to the Review, "Jelincic was one of the founders of the Caucus for a Democratic Union." At one time Ed Perez was an activist in CDU and reportedly even webmaster for CDU.
The closeness of the election led to demands for a recount by CDU and allegations of election misconduct. After much contention, the election was re-held in August. According to the Sacramento Bee, "both sides said they believed there were voting irregularities" in the first election. In the August re-run of the election, Cathy Hackett was reelected after all as Local 1000 Secretary-Treasurer.
The CDU movement has been focused in civil service and existed almost exclusively within what is now called Local 1000. At the October 2003 General Council Joseph Jelincic, then a CDU candidate, was elected as the new state president for all CSEA.
According to Perez, it became evident after the 2003 election that the war (within civil service) was not over. What many saw as an effort to reform CSEA became an effort by others in CDU to destroy CSEA. There was a big debate within CDU. "Many of us had gotten involved with CDU with the intent of reforming CSEA and we accomplished that in 2003. Some people did not get off their war horse after that election," Perez said. After it became evident that what some saw as a movement to reform CSEA, others saw as a movement to destroy it, CSEU was born.
Despite being one of CDU's founders a serious rift occurred with J.J. Jelincic on the side of keeping a strong CSEA together with Hard and Hackett on the other side. Others sided with Jelincic and rallied around CSEU. According to CSEU's by-laws, Barbara Powers, another former CDU member, is the president of CSEU. "Barbara Powers was my inspiration," Perez said. "After the local 1000 elections we saw we needed to open it up to all four affiliates to prepare for General Council in October 2005. Right now we are mostly former CDU members," Perez said. "Within a month of forming we had about 200 delegates supporting our position, half of whom signed on as members of CSEU," said Perez. We went to the 2005 General Council the CSEU supported candidates, including Jelincic, were elected and the CDU supported candidates were defeated.
"We are trying to keep the momentum going. We are trying to stay the course and stop wasting time fighting amongst ourselves. We are trying to win elections and win good contracts and keep CSEA together. We need to reach out and use untapped resources. We need to focus on working together," said Perez.
In my opinion, that is what CSEU, and CSEA, is all about.