The State Worker

Long-time prison officers’ union president to retire

Mike Jimenez, the mercurial leader of the California Correctional Peace Officers’ Association, is retiring at the end of this year and members have elected the union’s executive vice president, Chuck Alexander, to head the organization starting Jan. 1.

The leadership change, announced Thursday after a vote at the union’s annual convention, will mark just the second time CCPOA has turned over administrations since organizing more than 30 years ago.

Jimenez, 52, assumed the union presidency when Don Novey retired in 2002. The dozen years that followed were some of the most turbulent in the union’s history: Contract battles with former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, furloughs, Gov. Jerry Brown’s prison system downsizing program and a defamation lawsuit that cost CCPOA millions of dollars all created unrest among the union’s 30,000 members.

Jimenez was known for bizarre and provocative antics, such as refusing to cut his hair and beard during a bargaining impasse with Schwarzenegger. At one point during contentious labor talks the union ordered up a large unflattering picture of the movie star-governor in a Speedo and had it driven around the Capitol.

In recent years, however, Jimenez has mellowed personally and also taken CCPOA in a more moderate direction. Two years ago, the union didn’t take a position on a ballot measure that softened California’s “three strikes” statute. Under Novey, CCPOA played a key role persuading voters to approve the 1994 law and didn’t hesitate to deploy its considerable resources to fight any attempts to temper it.

Alexander, the union’s executive vice president since 2005, was widely regarded as next in line for the top CCPOA job.

His state career, all with the prison system, includes assignments at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville and prison openings in Blythe and in Crescent City. Before joining the state, Alexander, 50, was an Army helicopter mechanic stationed in Alaska.

Over the last few years he has become CCPOA’s public face, giving interviews, appearing at legislative hearings and lending his name to press releases.

When Alexander takes over next year, the union will appoint someone to the number two job, according to a CCPOA press release.