GOV. BROWN MEETS WITH CALPINE EMPLOYEES,
PLEDGES SUPPORT FOR FREE, FAIR ELECTION
The union organizing drive at Calpine’s geyser plants got a major boost on Dec. 9 when California Gov. Jerry Brown met with members of the Calpine organizing committee and pledged his support for a free and fair election.
Despite being swamped by pressing budget concerns, Gov. Brown sat down with the Calpine workers for a lengthy discussion at the state capital, asking about the goals and tactics of the Calpine campaign. Calpine employees Lisa Jones, Jay Hepper, John Mummert, Mike Farmer and Brian Gleason took turns describing ways in which the company is obstructing a free and fair election, including the company’s use of several full-time union-busting “consultants” in an attempt to intimidate employees.
“He asked many questions about what we’ve been doing and about some of the issues we’ve been facing,” said Farmer in a report to fellow Calpine employees on the meeting with Gov. Brown. “He’s very concerned about some of the tactics being used by the company and said he would be willing to talk to some people about it.”
Gov. Brown expressed concern on learning that Calpine workers were being forced to attend meetings with anti-union consultants, and expressed his support for the workers’ right to hear from union representatives on an equal basis.
Gov. Brown drew comparisons between the Calpine workers’ campaign and the struggle by farm workers to achieve union representation in the 1970s. In 1975, during his first stint as governor, Brown signed into law the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act, which established collective bargaining for farmworkers and protects their right to organize unions “free from the interference, restraint, or coercion of employers of labor, or their agents…”
The governor seemed surprised to hear that Calpine was able to use stalling tactics to delay the union election to Jan. 25-26, 2012, nearly two full months after workers filed their election petition on Dec. 1 with the National Labor Relations Board. The workers wanted to hold the election as early as possible. Such stalling tactics would not be permitted in the agricultural sector under the law that Gov. Brown signed in 1975.
Following the meeting with Gov. Brown, the Calpine workers met with Nick Hardeman, an aide to John Perez, Speaker of the California Assembly, himself a former union organizer. Hardeman affirmed Perez’s support for free and fair union elections, and said the Speaker would help in whatever way he could.
Prior to the meeting with Brown, the Calpine workers held a rally at Calpine offices in Sacramento, where the union campaign was given ringing endorsements from Bill Camp, head of the Sacramento Central Labor Council, and IBEW Ninth District Vice President Mike Mowery, among others.
Following the rally the Calpine workers attempted to deliver a letter to Calpine management. They were informed by building security that Calpine management had closed its office for the entire day.
As John Mummert looks on, Gov. Brown shakes hands with Jay Hepper and Mike Farmer.