Local 1245 has won another round in the union’s on-going battle to protect the rights and jobs of its members at the City of Redding.
The victory came on June 7, when the Redding City Council voted 3-2 to abandon efforts to establish Redding as a charter city. Some council members had focused on the charter option as a way to exempt the city from prevailing wage laws—just the latest in a series of attempts to weaken workers.
“The efforts of IBEW 1245, including those of our Business Manager, our Executive Board, our Solidarity Action Network and especially our members, are to be celebrated,” said Assistant Business Manager Ray Thomas. “Once again we’ve shown that we can defend ourselves when we stick together.”
Thomas challenged the charter concept in a radio program in March, and in the weeks leading up to the vote members of the union’s Solidarity Action Network urged city officials to oppose the charter initiative.
The vote came after a city advisory panel studying the charter issue was unable to muster a majority vote in favor of recommending the charter option to the City Council.
Creating a charter city form of government is just the latest gambit by city councilors Rick Bosetti and Patrick Jones in an on-going effort to blame city workers for Redding’s economic problems. Along with some members of the city’s business community, Bosetti and Jones have championed the idea of privatizing city services—on the theory that private sector workers could get the work done cheaper.
But that theory was recently proved wrong when the city engaged in a “Request for Proposal” process for the maintenance of several parks. As the Redding Record Searchlight noted, “the city’s costs are lower than the private sector’s for this work, thanks in part of cost-cutting moves that the parks staff had been planning since last fall.”
Did Bosetti and Jones heave a sigh of relief and show gratitude for what a good deal they are getting from their union workers? Not these guys. Jones, displaying a bit of sore-loser syndrome, suggested there had been a “conspiracy” to thwart the use of private sector workers—as if the goal of city policy should be to promote the private sector whether it helps the city budget or not.
As the Record Searchlight noted in an editorial:
“The public needs skeptical and independent-minded councilors, but when cost cuts and union flexibility are met with conspiratorial accusations, it doesn’t build trust or the can-do spirit that the city needs. Instead, it fosters a poisonous environment that will cost far more than the few thousand bucks the city ever might have saved from its lawn-mowing bill.”
Thwarted in their effort to privatize IBEW jobs, Bosetti and Jones hoped to gain new leverage in their war with workers by pushing Redding to adopt charter city status. Now that effort, too, has failed.
Charter proponents could still put the matter on the ballot by gather signatures from 15 percent of voters. But if the ballot were to qualify, the city would be saddled with funding the vote.