The president-elect of California’s largest state worker union is set to become the group’s leader after a push to invalidate his election failed.
Richard Louis Brown has faced headwinds after he ousted the longtime incumbent president of Service Employees International Union Local 1000, Yvonne Walker, in a May election. Brown ran on a platform of defunding all political donations and not offering public support for Black Lives Matter and other political movements.
At least five people who ran for leadership positions in the election, in which just 7,880 of the union’s 54,000 dues-paying members voted, filed protests claiming there were irregularities in how the election was conducted and how votes were tabulated. Those protests were examined by a committee appointed by Walker that found no merit to the allegations.
Brown characterized his post-election situation as fraught with challenges, arguing that forces within the union are working to ensure he isn’t sworn in because of his desire to depoliticize it.
On Tuesday, he thanked God for the election protests being tossed and said his faith in Jesus Christ “has been verified.”
“That’s the great thing about our country, sometimes the underdogs win. And that’s the story of America,” Brown told the Washington Examiner In a Tuesday interview.
Brown beat Walker by capturing more than 33% of the vote compared to her 27%. He said his message of ending political donations resonated with members of the union who end up footing the bill.
Brown has said one of the major reasons he doesn’t support union donations is because there are members of the group who don’t support Democratic politicians or politically fraught social movements such as Black Lives Matter. In the waning days of Walker’s presidency, Local 1000 contributed $1 million to help Gov. Gavin Newsom fight his recall effort — a move that Brown attempted to block.
He believes the union’s support for Newsom alienates members and is upset the governor demanded pay cuts for state employees last year in light of a projected budget deficit during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“He’s selfish, he’s arrogant, and he does not bargain in good faith,” Brown said of Newsom.
When asked if, even after the protests were thrown out, he thinks there will continue to be union members trying to undercut his leadership, Brown said, “Absolutely.”
“The evilness in our union is present, is strong, it’s vibrant, and they’re going to do everything they can” to damage his presidency, he said.
“Let’s just be real: I’m an outspoken black man that somehow got to California and won an election that I wasn’t supposed to win because of my faith in God,” Brown said. “And because of that, I have a price to pay in the secular world.”
One of Brown’s top priorities once in office is to slash union dues to bring more workers into the group. Of the 96,000 state employees Local 1000 represents, only about 54,000 pay dues, which Brown attributes to both the politicization of the union and the membership costs.
Brown said he would push for a forensic audit on Local 1000’s books after he is sworn in and insist on financial transparency from the first day he becomes president.
The Washington Examiner contacted Local 1000 for comment about Brown overcoming the election challenges but did not immediately receive a response. Brown is set to be sworn into office on June 27.
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Original Author: Zachary Halaschak