It is hard to believe that 2016 is almost over, and even though we have accomplish many tasks and ratified many of our members’ contracts, staff continues to have a heavy workload dealing with ongoing negotiations, member services, and politics.
Negotiations continue with our largest Bargaining Unit, the County of Santa Barbara. Field Support staff has continually held worksite meetings to keep members informed and active in support of the bargaining process. Included in the campaign was the August 30th rally at the Board of Supervisors’ meeting. In addition to county members, we received support from Santa Maria City members and SEIU Local 721 members who are also at the table with the county. At the time of writing this article, the county has only offered 2.0% increases to salaries over a one-year period, which is an insult considering that our last contract resulted in only 4.0% over a three-year period with a salary re-opener that resulted in nothing. Additionally, consider that the county came to us begging for help during their budget shortfall, Local 620 members ponied up over 20.0% of salary (approximately $30,000,000) with the assurance that our sacrifice would not be forgotten. So much for county promises and or assurances; no credibility what so ever. Their excuses continue to be pension cost and the cost of a new jail. All county board members have been told on numerous occasions that they could not afford a new jail. This they were told by various stakeholders throughout the county. Similar to our last contract, it appears the county intends to continue to finance this mistake on the backs of their frontline staff.
On August 30th, both Local 620 and Local 721 jointly attended the Board of Supervisors’ meeting in Santa Maria in support of both of our bargaining tables. I am happy to report that we were able to fill the board chambers and that over 20 members / supporters elected to make public comments. The results of our efforts are unknown at the time of writing this article, but I can assure you that more job actions will be required. I sincerely appreciate our members’ sacrifice of their vacation time to come out in support of obtaining a fair contract for everyone. Update: On September 1, 2016, the County of Santa Barbara declared an impasse. Our next step is mediation, which is scheduled for the first week in October.
Labor organizations and their political committees continue to work with our endorsed candidates. Being a small Local leaves us with less of a voice when dealing on federal and state issues, but locally we have the means and the power to make a real difference. Local 620 members continue to be working on the endorsement process, but due to the due date of this article, I would like to call your attention to two candidates who have already been endorsed: Ms. Hartman for the County’s 3rd District and Terri Zuniga for Santa Maria City Council.
Joan Hartmann is in a run-off election for the 3th District in November. She has sat on dozens of boards as an officer / member for non-profit organizations in Santa Barbara County including six years as an advocate / volunteer for children in the foster care system. Until such time as she announced her candidacy for Supervisor, Joan sat on the Planning Commission for the Third District. I personally / professional support Joan and ask our members to do the same in November.
Terri Zuniga: She has been a long time member of Local 620 employed by the County of Santa Barbara District Attorney’s Office as Victims Witness Supervisor. Terri is also an incumbent running for re-election to the Santa Maria City council in November. Terri has a history of supporting working people and their families, I encourage members to participate in her campaign as well as come to vote for her in the general election.
Politics are an important part of trade unionism, especially for public sector labor organizations. Through our political work, we develop relationships that create laws that provide increased benefits, job protection, and the ability to negotiate over issues affecting our employment. We need members to stay active in politics. Make sure that you are registered to vote and make sure you understand whom you are voting for. As a labor organization, our job is to inform you of what candidates support working families; your job is to look at all aspects of the candidates and select the person whom you feel will do the best job for the citizens they will be serving. The goal is for you to VOTE.
Whether it is at the bargaining table or with politics, the most important aspect is that membership get involved. Local 620 conducts monthly chapter meetings, work site visits, and ongoing email blasts. We need the members to become active in their union’s activity; we need your input even if it differs from the direction that we are taking. And, we need to stay united, which means that everyone’s voice needs to be heard. Then, by majority rule we unite to achieve that goal. Even if we all do not achieve our individual personal goal, if we can achieve some of the majority’s goals year after year, then our overall salaries and benefits will improve. The result is that we will be able to support our families and our community simply by participating.
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