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Union Vote Favors Status Quo

CSEA president fends off a challenger who urged a greater role for group's largest affiliate.

October 10, 2005|Jean O. Pasco | Times Staff Writer

Contentious elections that could have led to the gutting of state government's largest public employee association ended Sunday with the reelection of the current president and a slate committed to keeping the 74-year-old organization intact.

J.J. Jelincic, president of the California State Employees Assn., was solidly reelected to a two-year term. He was challenged by Blanca Rodriguez, a candidate backed by the leadership of the largest of the association's four affiliates, Local 1000 of the Service Employees International Union.

The CSEA has 140,000 members including government workers and supervisors, retirees and state university employees. Local 1000, with 87,000 members, had demanded more control over its future.

Dozens of delegates to the association's annual general meeting in Anaheim applauded when the vote results were announced.

Still, the outcome won't quell dissent over which entity -- the CSEA or Local 1000 -- should control political spending and member services.

"We still have the issue of what this organization is going to look like going forward," Jelincic said. "We need to develop a consensus, and no one can do that alone."

Both sides will meet later this month in arbitration to decide several unresolved issues, including which entity controls about $1 million in member donations diverted from the association's political fund. Local 1000 insisted that the association wasn't entitled to the money.

The association spent $1.5 million in 2003 through its political fund. This year, Jelincic said, it was only able to spend $250,000 toward defeating a measure on the Nov. 8 ballot that would require the approval of a union's members before their dues could be used for political activities.

Rodriguez told delegates Saturday that the affiliates should control their own money, members and services. She said she didn't want to destroy the association, "it's just that the role is going to be a little different."

Local 1000's "change to win" platform called for cutting the number of association officers from four to one, and reducing its board from 25 directors to five.

Delegates supporting Local 1000's slate, including candidates for executive vice president, vice president and secretary/treasurer, said they hoped the infighting would stop.

"I'm hopeful everyone will start working together," said Linda Fenimore, president of a Local 1000 district council in Sacramento.

"We're a long-standing institution and it's complicated to change that kind of an organization," said Hylah Jacques, a Cal Poly San Luis Obispo employee who was elected executive vice president of CSEA. "There are other ways to resolve our issues."

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