Twenty little known facts about CAPS relations with Blanning and Baker LLc
1. Per the original CAPS Policy File, CAPS contracts with the labor consulting firm, Blanning and Baker (B & B).
2. The Chief Financial Officer of B & B is Mr. Matt Austin. The approximately 2500 members of CAPS contributes $800k per year to B & B’s coffers.
3. Blanning and Baker are also the labor consultants for Professional Engineers of California Government (PECG), which has 13,000 members. Assuming dues of $50 per month, B & B receives $7,800,000.00 from PECG. The founder of Blanning and Baker, Bruce Blanning, was previously a state engineer. He is the Executive Director of PECG.
4. All CAPS office employees are Blanning and Baker employees. Their names can be found on the Blanning and Baker webpage.
5. The rights of representation of CAPS members are conferred by the Ralph Dills Act. The agency responsible for enforcement of provisions of the Dills Act is the Public Employees Relations Board (PERB).
6. CAPS is also a Non-profit Mutual Benefit Corporation governed by the California Corporations Code. The agency responsible for enforcement of this code includes the Office of the Attorney General and the Superior Court (county of primary corporation office).
7. Chain-of-command: Blanning and Baker report to the CAPS elected president. The contract CAPS has with Blanning and Baker is reviewed-approved by the CAPS elected board. CAPS can terminate Blanning and Baker if they so choose.
8. The CAPS bylaws are intentionally hidden: CAPS intentionally hides their bylaws and policy file documents while other unions post them on the union webpage. These documents are the rights the members have with their union. These documents were previously posted on the password-protected part of the CAPS webpage, but have since gone missing after members began scrutinizing them. The explanation given by a Blanning and Baker employee for not displaying them is that “the union business is competitive.” The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) document that is posted on the CAPS webpage does not address the rights members have with CAPS/Blanning and Baker, only the rights members have with their employer.
9. CAPS site reps are appointed, not elected: Per the bylaws, site reps are handpicked by the CAPS board, not elected.
10. Failure to hold member meetings (previous bylaws requirement): The previously required (prior to 2011 revision of bylaws) annual meeting of the members never occurred. These would have been formal meetings, with set agenda, and documented minutes. Instead, the only meetings CAPS members have participated in have been “informational meetings”, no minutes documenting your voice-concerns for other members across the state to hear or read. The revised (March, 2011) bylaws have removed the requirement of a yearly meeting for the members. Blanning and Baker staff cite logistical challenges of an annual meetings as CAPS members are distributed throughout the state.
11. Circulating petitions not possible: CAPS has no petition procedure and the CAPS board and B & B staff have made it clear they do not support one. In a recent email communication, Treasurer David Miller stated, “If you want a petition circulated, it is YOUR job to do it, not CAPS staff. In fact, if I find that our staff is assisting anyone to circulate petitions, I would find THAT to be a serious error.” It should be noted that SEIU has a procedure for circulating petitions. In the words of the B & B Staff Director “CAPS has that language (petition option) in its bylaws as a requirement of the California Corporations Code, on advice of counsel. Every Mutual Benefit Non Profit Corporation (MBNPC), as CAPS is organized, should have it. But that doesn’t mean the process is practical or that it would ever be used in an organization the size and shape of CAPS.”
12. The holding of special meetings not possible: The bylaws state that members can use a petition to call for a special meeting. To do so, members need 5% of the membership. CAPS has no petition procedure. CAPS will not help circulate a petition. CAPS will not provide members with a membership list (not even work addresses). The option to call a special meeting is non-existent.
13. No recall elections: The bylaws say members can recall elected officers by conducting a special meeting or petition. As neither is possible, the option to hold a recall election is non-existent.
14. Decertification not possible: In violation of state law (enforced by PERB), CAPS members cannot decertify CAPS. The state collective bargaining laws include a provision for members to decertify their union, and thus seeking representation from another union. The state procedure requires a petition containing signatures of 30% of the membership. The CAPS membership is divided into 5 districts throughout the state, each containing approximately 500 members, the locations of these members unknown. The option to decertify is non-existent.
15. Severance not possible: CAPS members cannot seek severance from their union. In violation of state law, a specific group of CAPS members cannot seek severance from CAPS as this can only be done via the circulation of a petition. The option to seek severance from CAPS is non-existent.
16. Censoring of candidate statements: CAPS censor’s election candidate statements by adding additional “censoring” language to the bylaws that EXCEEDS the candidate statement requirements of the governing California Corporations Code. CAPS has added their own additional verbiage stating that a candidate statement cannot contain any information that could bring harm to CAPS. This includes damaging facts regarding the conduct and performance of Blanning and Baker staff. Unlike other CAPS bylaws provisions, this one item is STRICTLY ENFORCED as evidenced by recent sanitizing of statements of current candidates. CAPS candidate statements were required to first be submitted to Blanning and Baker staff, instead of the CAPS election committee. The election committee then reviews the statements. Presumably, a lawyer is included in the review of these statements. Presumably, the lawyer is an employee of Blanning and Baker. Presumably, that lawyer would not be able to impartially review a candidate statement that calls for the termination of Blanning and Baker.
17. Communication Blackout: CAPS has ignored previous requests from members to add a mechanism of communication, such as an E-forum or list serve.
18. CAPS funding of PACs: In 2010, $530,600.00 (1/3 of CAPS dues) was paid to political campaigns by CAPS. CAPS also gave $7,800.00 to Treasurer David Miller for his pursuit of a seat on the PERS board. 19. “Independent” Financial audits: The bylaws require these. The treasurer, two weeks after being asked, now states they are being performed. It is known that yearly audits are being performed by the “non-independent” Blanning and Baker bookkeeper. Audits are also being performed by the “non-independent” CPAs, Kumpf and Leippe. It is not known who is performing the “independent” audits.
20. CAPS Lawsuit strategy: Review of lawsuits filed by CAPS in past 20 years reveals a losing record.