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A simple question, but with an answer some people aren’t completely sure of. In the simplest of terms, SBPEA is a labor union.

The Association was formed by a group of employees seeking to protect their collective interests, a true example of strength in numbers. SBPEA -- like most labor organizations -- represents a highly successful example of the old saying that there is strength in numbers. Over the years, SBPEA has evolved into a "full-service" labor organization, offering the full range of representation services members come to expect, as well as numerous programs in response to member needs.

Whether we’re called a union or an association, our purpose is the same: to protect the rights, benefits and interests of our members. While the terms "union" and "association" are used interchangeably, many members prefer to use the term "association" to distinguish SBPEA from the AFL-CIO international union movement. This distinction as an independent is what sets us apart from many other unions representing public employees.


As a union that is not affiliated with the AFL-CIO, we are truly independent, with the policies that guide our efforts not set by some huge union bureaucracy in Sacramento or Washington, D.C. Our marching orders are taken directly from members, through a locally-elected and controlled Board of Directors.

This independence is what separates us from many other public employee labor groups. By being independent and locally controlled, members have a much more direct say in the policies of SBPEA.

Independence allows our members to set the union’s budget and policies through a directly elected Board of Directors. Independence means we are not beholden to outside control from some "parent" group; SBPEA does not send our members’ dues money to support candidates or causes you know nothing about; our local decisions cannot be overturned by an international union bureaucrat. This philosophy of independence has been fiercely defended by the elected Association leadership as the best way of doing the job we’re expected to do.