Nick Berardino, 67, the longtime leader of Orange County’s largest union is retiring this summer, on July 31, according to the O.C. Register.
Berardino has been the top labor boss for public employees at the Orange County Employees Association for 11 years.
Former O.C. Register reporter Jennifer Muir, 34, the union’s assistant general manager since 2010, was chose by the union members to replace Berardino, after a national search.
The OCEA has 18,000 members.
The contentious Berardino has at times hurt the OCEA with his hot temper.
According to the O.C. Register, “Last year, county CEO Mike Giancola said in a letter to OCEA that Berardino “verbally abused and physically threatened with violence” county negotiators during union negotiations. Muir said then that Berardino was responding to “bullying and intimidating” by county government leaders when things “got heated” and he told them to leave.”
Berardino also developed a major dislike for Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido, after Pulido endorsed Santa Ana Councilman Carlos Bustamante for a Supervisorial seat. Berardino was backing Tom Umberg for that seat. Umberg’s campaign fell apart when he got caught cheating on his wife. Ironically Bustamante later was charged with sexual harassment at his workplace and his wife divorced him. The big winner in that Supervisorial race was Janet Nguyen. Berardino, and the OCEA, paid for the recount which put Nguyen on the OC Board of Supervisors. Last year Nguyen broke with the OCEA and defeated their candidate in the race for the 34th State Senate District, Jose Solorio.
Berardino prodded the OCEA into donating a lot of money to help start the Voice of OC, a watchdog website that acts as a newspaper, without a print edition. The Voice of OC has pestered Pulido, most likely at Berardino’s behest, for years although Pulido has continued to win every mayoral contest in Santa Ana.
Berardino also has a soft side – he is a big supporter of the U.S. Military, particularly Veterans, and he always enjoyed serving hot dogs from his custom hot dog cart, at the annual OCEA Labor Day event at the Santa Ana Zoo and in Sacramento at Governor Jerry Brown’s election and reelection ceremonies.
Berardino won’t be shuffling off any time soon however. He will continue to work as a part-time consultant to the OCEA after his retirement.
Berardino is also member of the Orange County Fair’s Board of Directors.