It appears that we are never short of work or issues to address that impact our members and their families. With June’s Primary elections completed we are preparing for the November 4, 2014 General Election.
I am pleased to report that Supervisor Wolf was re-elected as Santa BarbaraCounty’s 2nd District Supervisor. Supervisor Wolf easily defeated her opponent Roger Aceves who did everything he could to attack Supervisor Wolf for her support of county employees and Local 620 for our support of her. The unfortunate news is that Mr. Aceves still sits on Goleta’s City Council. The City of Goleta is our newest chapter, which we organized earlier this year and with which we are currently in negotiations for their first contract. On the positive side, the City of Goleta will be electing three council members on November 4, 2014; I believe Mr. Aceves will be one of the candidates. Hopefully our newest members will participate in the process and we sincerely hope we have some candidates who not only support the City and the residents, but also support their employees as well.
Residents of Santa BarbaraCounty also voted down Measure M, which would have required the county to spend an estimated 19 to 42 million dollars from the county’s general fund for infrastructure / maintenance of county facilities & roads. If passed this would be at the expense of jobs and programs of Local 620 members, whom we represent. Local 620 does support the need to maintain infrastructure and roads, just not at the expense of county jobs and programs. I would like to thank our members and allies for their work on getting Measure M voted down.
In addition to our normal workload, members and staff are gearing up for the November 4, 2014 General Election. I have already mentioned the upcoming city council race in the City of Goleta, but also we have an extremely important city council race in the City of Santa Maria and various other jurisdictions in San Luis Obispo County where members are willing to get involved in the political process to elect their community’s leadership and as public sector employees, ultimately their bosses.
Even though we are experiencing mostly positive outcomes at the bargaining tables, I have observed two real threats to our member’s wages and benefits recently. The first is the expectation of double digit health care cost (possibly mid 20% range) while the employers that our members work for are trying to reduce their liability. Even many of the employers who in the past have strived to provide adequate health care coverage are using the current health care uncertainty to reduce their contribution at the bargaining table. This results in increased costs to working people in providing for their family’s medical needs and again reduces our take home pay, which impacts our family’s other needs such as food, rents/mortgages, fuel and everything else. It is imperative that members participate in the open enrollment process to determine their options.
The second threat that has become very obvious amongst many of our member’s employers is the reclassification of positions to lower classes while maintaining their current workload and restructuring of departments resulting in reduced frontline staff. Often our members are presented with a blank survey form (sometimes referred to as PE10 form) and are instructed to list all the functions of their job along with the percentage of their daily time that they perform those duties. Often our members who are already overloaded from reduction in staffing don’t take the necessary time to ensure that these documents are completed correctly. They really do not think it matters; they have more important work to do. Then months or possibly a year later they are informed that based on a HR study and the information that the employee filled out, they are being reclassified to a lower position and either having their pay reduced or are being Y rated (having their wages frozen). Often staff at Local 620 learns of these classification studies just prior to implementation when HR is ready to meet their obligation to meet/confer over these changes. Remember, HR has had months if not a year to prepare for these reclassifications while union representative may have days or maybe a few weeks, and our members have already provided the employer with substandard or incomplete surveys that will now be used against them.
Members of Local 620 need to always be watchful of this type of activity and when presented with the request or requirement to complete these type of forms they should notify the Local immediately for advice and to alert us of this potential threat, so that we can address the issue early on. Understand that you are still required to complete these forms, but knowing that your employer will use it against you provides you with the incentive to be overly detailed regarding the importance of your position and the highest levels of expertise needed of you to perform your extremely important job functions for the community.
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 SEIU Local 620