With one county supervisor fighting for his political life in a tough reelection bid, two others are facing a recall threat from a persistent labor union whose members say have long been shortchanged by Imperial County officials.
In the sights of the United Domestics Workers are first-term District 2 Supervisor Luis Plancarte and board chairman and District 5 Supervisor Raymond Castillo. The union announced its intent to seek a recall of Plancarte at the Oct. 2 county board meeting and followed that up with adding Castillo at the Oct. 9 meeting.
Their colleague, District 1 Supervisor, John Renison, is battling to fend off a challenge from Calexico City Council Member Jesus Escobar in the Nov. 6 election.
Frustrations are boiling over because negotiations between the union and the county over a requested pay increase have dragged for nearly a year, members said. They have frequently appeared at county board meetings to express their demands and ask supervisors to support a pay increase.
“We have been asking for your help Mr. Plancarte for a long time and you haven’t heard us,” union member Maria Eugenia Godinez pleaded during the public comments portion of the board’s Oct. 2 meeting. “We helped you get the seat you are in right now and we will continue to gather signatures to remove you,”
Godinez and other members spoke in favor of reaching a fair contract settlement. She told the board on Oct. 2 the union has collected 400 signatures to initiate a recall against Plancarte, alleging he has not supported the union nor helped bring about an agreement.
Plancarte said in telephone interview both the county and the unions appoint their negotiators to discuss contracts. He maintained it is not helpful for any of the supervisors to declare something publicly that would affect the negotiations.
“The reason why I don’t discuss or make a statement during the meetings is because we have a negotiating team talking to the unions and it is their job to reach an agreement and that’s the way it should be done,” Plancarte stated.
The union is asking for a 50-cent-per-hour salary increase and 40 cents for the health plan for dental and vision coverage. This offer from the union would increase the salary to $11.50 starting February if both sides come to an agreement.
Union members work in “in-home support services” in the county serving the disabled and others who need help in their homes. Such workers number about 4,000.
A county Election Department official said as of Oct. 9 no one had inquired about a recall, which requires several steps:
Step 1- Prepare a notice of intention to recall with the name of the officer being sought, a statement of 200 words of the reasons why, and the signature of 10 proponents with their names and addresses.
Step 2 - A copy of the notice of intention must be served by personal delivery or by certified mail on the officer sought to be recalled.
Step 3 - A copy of the notice of intention (including addresses and signatures) must be published at the proponents' expense at least once in a newspaper of general circulation.
Step 4 - Within seven days after the filing of the notice of intention, the officer sought to be recalled may file with the Secretary of State an answer of not more than 200 words.
Step 5 - The next step is for proponents to prepare the recall petition (signatures) with the statement attached as to why they want to recall.
Step 6 - The number of signatures must be equal in number to not less than the specified percentage of registered voters in the electoral jurisdiction.
Step 7 - When proponents bring in the petition for filing, the elections official must count the number of signatures on it. If, from this examination, the elections official determines the number of signatures, on its face, equals or is in excess of the minimum number of signatures required, the elections official shall accept the petition for filing. The petition shall be deemed as filed on that date.
Step 8 - The election shall be held not less than 88 nor more than 125 days after the issuance of the order.