Hotel family name tied to labor dispute

Milias Hotel 1922

Two labor unions representing nurses in the expanded Santa Clara County Hospital System are at odds over differing interpretations of the state law that celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

The Meyers-Milias-Brown Act, the groundbreaking legislation that became law in 1969, gave public sector employees in California local governments the right to collective bargaining.

The California Nurses Association (CNA) says the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act (popularly known as the MMBA) gives it the right to represent nurses at St. Louise Regional Hospital and O’Connor Hospital, while the Registered Nurses Professional Association (RNPA) contends that it already represents nurses at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center and all nurses who are now county employees in the new three-hospital county system created this month. The dispute heads to the courts next month.

Sandwiched in the middle of the three names in the title of this landmark law is a name familiar to most Gilroyans: Republican Assemblyman George W. Milias. When Gov. Ronald Reagan signed the MMBA into law 1968, he made California the second state in the nation to allow public sector collective bargaining at the local level. A half-century later, the law that bears Milias’ name is at the heart of a labor dispute affecting the local hospital in his hometown. Milias died in 1977 at age 52.

Although the other two names in the MMBA are legendary mid-century lawmakers—San Francisco Democratic Assemblyman Charlie Meyers and fellow Democrat George Brown, who would serve in Congress for nearly 35 years—Milias was a well-known Republican.

Born in 1925, Milias represented the 22nd Assembly District from 1962 to 1970. His father, George Milias Sr., founded the Milias Restaurant and Steakhouse three years before his son was born. It was operated by the family for many years, and it is a downtown fixture to this day, at the corner of Sixth and Monterey streets.

The younger Milias earned degrees at San Jose State and Stanford, and, while a member of the county planning commission, was chair of the California Republican Party and a delegate to the 1960 and 1968 Republican National Convention. In 1960, he was named to the National Young Republican Hall of Fame.Elected to the Assembly in 1962, Milias was vice chair of the Fish And Game Committee and the Conservation and Wildlife Committees. Instead of seeking a fifth term in the Assembly in 1970, he unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for California Secretary of State. In the 1974 election, Milias was the Republican nominee for California’s 13th congressional district but was defeated by San Jose Mayor Norman Mineta.

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