Employees at the City of Lompoc chose to be represented by Iinternational Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1245 in a union election conducted on Jan. 29. The union received over 90% of the vote.
Local 1245 Business Rep. Junior Ornelas, who was active in the election campaign:
It was pretty overwhelming. It wasn’t just the utility group, it wasn’t just the water department—it was wall to wall. It was everybody.
The employees were previously represented by an independent union, the Lompoc Employees Association (LEA). Members of the LEA’s board of directors played a pivotal role in the campaign to select IBEW Local 1245 as the employees’ bargaining representative.
The board really embraced the change. They knew they needed professional representation. They helped out tremendously.
Jaime Tinoco, the chief officer of the LEA, was a key organizer of the successful campaign. He said:
We’re really excited to be part of the IBEW. We’ve been working on this for years.
Local 1245 Organizer Fred Ross Jr. praised Tinoco's leadership in the union drive:
Fighting for his coworkers and fighting for a union became his passion. He was able to identify, recruit and lead other workers and develop them as leaders. He worked at it night and day, even as he was working fulltime for the City of Lompoc, serving as chief officer of the LEA and taking leadership on resolving grievances. He was doing it all.
According to Tinoco, the election drive succeeded because so many Lompoc employees got involved in the campaign, and because he could call on Local 1245 staff members for assistance.
If I felt I was in trouble, I asked for help and they gave me the tools to turn this around. They deserve a lot of the credit.
The election is particularly remarkable because it comes at a time when union membership has fallen to its lowest level in 97 years—just 11.3% of the workforce. In the public sector, unions lost 234,000 members over the past year.
But employees for the City of Lompoc didn’t cast their votes based on trends; they based their vote on the belief that union representation will give them a stronger hand at the bargaining table. Going forward they will have an opportunity to submit proposals for bargaining, and to have a bargaining committee of their peers sit down and negotiate with the company, assisted by professional negotiators from the Local 1245 staff.