Wednesday, June 22, 2011
ADDA Members Vote for Affiliation With National Labor Union
Prosecutors Align Themselves With American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
By SHERRI M. OKAMOTO, Staff Writer
Members of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys have voted to affiliate themselves with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a national labor union.
Ballots, which were due Monday, were tallied by arbitrator David Hart at AFSCME District Council 36’s building yesterday. The final count was 133 in favor of affiliation and 24 opposed.
Deputy District Attorney David Berger, an ADDA member who has been critical of the group’s leadership, had predicted that affiliation would pass.
He suggested that “there will be a great many DAs who will feel the election was rigged” since there is “an unhealthy lack of transparency about the way ADDA holds elections.”
The prosecutor—who has previously accused ADDA President Hyatt Seligman and his predecessor, Deputy District Attorney Steve Ipsen, of having “hijacked” the group to serve their own purposes—said affiliation with AFSCME “just heightens my fear that there will never be truly representative leadership of the ADDA.”
Deputy District Attorney Steve Dickman, another ADDA member, said he voted against affiliation because he opposed becoming aligned with “big labor” and he does not “want to have any of my dues going to support the kind of causes that I really don’t agree with.”
He said that most large labor unions, and “AFSCME in particular, have very different views politically and policy-wise than I do.” For example, Dickman said, AFSCME supported Proposition 66, which “would have gutted three-strikes,” but the ADDA had opposed it.
AFSME is “very, very different than myself, and I think, most of my colleagues,” Dickman said.
Another AFSCME action the prosecutor took issue with was its financial support of only Democratic candidates. “According to its website, AFSCME gave $87.5 million to re-elect Democrats,” but did not back a single Republican, Dickman said. He queried:
“Really? Not one person was worthy of anything?”
Dickman insisted that “I’m not a right-wing conservative by any stretch,” being a registered Democrat himself, “but these guys are way to the left of me.”
“I don’t want any part of that, and I was hoping my colleagues wouldn’t want to affiliate with that,” he said.
When he voted in favor of the ADDA as an independent collective bargaining unit in 2008, Dickman said then-president Ipsen “had assured us we would remain independent” and he would not have made the same decision “had I known we would be affiliated with big labor.”
Seligman has previously stated that affiliation will not increase the cost of member dues—which range from $55 to $75 per person—although AFSCME will receive $33.35 of this amount as a “per capita.”
AFSCME is also poised to receive additional funds from the county’s prosecutors if a vote for “agency shop” passes.
This election is one in which all non-managerial deputy district attorneys, regardless of whether they are current ADDA members, will be eligible to participate, Seligman has said. If a majority so elects, the creation of an agency shop will require all deputy district attorneys who are not already members to join the union and pay dues, or pay a fee for opting out.
Seligman has previously said this amount will be “somewhere less than” the level of current dues and be determined by the board before the agency shop vote, which has not yet been scheduled.
Berger said this election will provide the assurance of having the vote conducted by the county’s Employee Relations Commission, and predicted it would not pass since “the vast majority” of his colleagues are opposed to having to pay dues or the opt-out fee.
Copyright 2011, Metropolitan News Company