The State Worker

Union board rejects stipends for SEIU Local 1000 executives

SEIU Local 1000 leaders rejected Wednesday a controversial plan to pay its top executives annual stipends of up to $100,000, despite union President Yvonne Walker’s support for the proposal.

At its Los Angeles meeting, the union’s board of directors voted 34-24 against paying five- and six-figure yearly stipends to Walker and three vice presidents.

All four officers participated in Wednesday’s vote.

Opponents to the stipend plan blasted out emails, derisively labeling it “CEO pay,” but the board agreed 43-15 that the statewide officers should receive some sort of supplemental pay to their state salaries and benefits, which are reimbursed by Local 1000. A committee will take up the issue again in January, according to a union summary of the three-day meeting that included several other issues besides stipends.

The local’s summary, issued Thursday afternoon, says that the “board could not reach an agreement on the amount of those stipends after considering a wide variety of alternatives.”

The proposal that was considered would have based the payments on the difference of the officers’ state salaries and the salary of the highest job classification represented by the local, plus 5 percent for vice presidents and 10 percent for the president.

Walker was quoted as saying that the meeting still produced “adjustments and refinements that make Local 1000 more effective and efficient.”

Had the board approved the plan, annual stipends for the four officers would have totaled $345,866 in the first year, according to the local’s estimates. Walker, for example, stood to receive $102,785, according to an email sent to members, in addition to her $51,000 in state pay that Local 1000 already covers.

The plan reminded some critics in the union of a controversial 2011 plan that would have brought total compensation for the president to $150,000 per year and $125,000 per year for the vice presidents. Walker, who distanced herself from that proposal, took it off the agenda after news reports riled up the rank and file.

Walker backed the latest proposal, arguing that the stipend was appropriate to the demands of leadership, the complexity of the work and the size of Local 1000. The union represents 95,000 state employees and operates on an annual budget of $60 million per year.

Javier Cardenas, a board member who opposed the plan, and other opponents said it would financially distance leadership from the rank and file, fuel efforts to decertify Local 1000 and add a hefty expense while a U.S. Supreme Court case imperils unions’ dues revenue.

Alternatives proposed Wednesday included giving the president a $3,000 monthly stipend and $2,000 to the vice presidents. Another would have preserved the terms of the original stipend plan but deferred the program until 2018, after the next executive election.