Looking back at 2014, we achieved numerous positive victories throughout Local 620’s jurisdictions. On the most part, our members have received some positive growth in salaries and benefits, but no where near what is deserved. This continues to be mostly due to employers still taking advantage of anti-public employee attacks from special interest groups and claims of expected increases to pension costs, even though the market is experiencing good returns, which fund the majority of our plans. Local 620 is happy to report that we were able to organize employees in Oceano CSD, and the City of Goleta in 2014 and we continue in 2015 to have discussions with other public sector employees in both Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties. Local 620 is currently reviewing our organizational structure and we expect to announce some improvements to some of the field activity and staffing in early March.
Last year we were able to save several positions from layoffs as a result of contracting out. The Santa Barbara Public Health Department last year attempted to contract out lab services, which Local 620, some members of the Board of Supervisors, and members of the public were able stop prior to budget discussions. Well again, this department is providing the county’s Board of Supervisors with slanted information concerning changes to county labs that will save money from their budget. Not one proposal is to cut non direct labor costs of increased levels of management. They are presenting options to cut frontline staff, which will result in a loss of control of operations and increase costs to the public for service. But they are still proposing to keep their management team, to manage what, I do not know.
Similar to public health, the County of Santa Barbara Parks Department is hiring several seasonal employees. The issue is: What seasons are they hiring for? Whereas we can understand summer hiring of seasonal employees, they continue to hire seasonal staff all year round; and not to violate civil service rules, they are swapping positions every six months among several of the seasonal employees resulting in full time employment without benefits. If work needs to be done year round, they need to hire full time staff and stop playing these games or cheating hard working individuals out of their benefits, such as medical insurance.
For several years we have been experiencing similar issues with cities, districts, and superior courts. It is ok to hire seasonal workers for seasonal work or backfill positions when permanent employees are not available. But this should only be a short-term solution for fulfilling staffing needs, not long-term attempts to save a couple of dollars from some poor individual who is trying to support a family and is too afraid to say anything for fear of being terminated. It is expected as baby boomers retire there will be a shortage of trained staff to assume our jobs. Many employers are failing to recognize the need to hire full-time employees to learn our trade prior to our departure so that there are qualified employees to meet the government’s obligation to provide meaningful quality services to the public.
Even though we are thankful for the assistance of some of these workers, especially due to our low staffing levels, we as full time benefited employees, need to continue to educate these individuals that they are doing themselves and future workers an injustice. If they continue to settle for employment without a future or benefits, then in time we will all lose what we have worked years to obtain. We full time workers need to continue to fight for full time benefited jobs for all workers and individuals who fill seasonal / backfill positions and need to continue to seek employment from employers who respect them enough to provide a living wage, benefits, and a secure future.
SEIU California State Council has set a goal to increase union membership by a minimum of 20.0% by year 2020 in California. We are organizing fast food workers, home service providers, and chain store workers. We also need to look toward organizing seasonal and backfill /limited term workers. If we can negotiate better wages and benefits for these workers, then employers will not have any incentive to hire these individuals on a long-term basis.
Local 620 is dedicated to providing meaningful, quality service to our members. We look forward to interaction with members both in a group setting and one on one. We value your constructive input, and suggestions and we encourage you to participate in your union.
Bruce Corsaw, Executive Director