Local 620, along with the SEIU State Council and SEIU International, continues to be active in state and federal bills that provide funding for most of the services that we provide. Often these bills fill the gap in services left by the federal and state to counties and cities where we represent the employees. Without the financial resources from bills that we support, there would be fewer public sector employees to provide services and there would be continued deterioration in social programs, facilities, and public infrastructure like buildings, parks, and roads.
Earlier in the year, Local 620 teamed up with other labor organizations and our SEIU State Council to pass AB 1, which was a Transportation Funding / Reform Bill that would provide new revenue of $4.28 billion and restore $1.8 billion for a total of $6.09 billion of on-going revenue. The source of this revenue is from a gas tax of 6 cents in year one, 9 cents in year 2, and 12 cents in year 3; Vehicle registration fee of $35; zero emission vehicle registration fee of $100; freight investment of 20 cent diesel exercise tax and an increase of 4% sales tax on diesel.
AB 1 will also restore truck weight fees, eliminate the annual BOE adjustment of price-based exercise tax, return price-based revenues related to the sale of fuel for non-highway purposes, and return $60 million in miscellaneous transportation revenue.
Passage of AB 1 will provide much needed revenue to Public Works in the County of Santa Barbara and with every city that we represent. And it will support state highway projects and private industry that provide services and material to maintain our roads, bridges, and transit system.
Currently there is a $1 Trillion Infrastructure Spending Bill going through the federal legislation process, which will aid the counties and cities in maintenance of our road systems. Local 620 and many of our allies are supporting this bill, which will support or increase the staffing levels of public and private employees throughout this country. I am sorry to report that SEIU International has chosen to take a neutral stance on this bill even after many of their locals have come out in support of this bill. That said, Local 620, along with the Teamsters, IBEW, and other labor organizations that support our road system and our members who maintain those roads and highways continue to lobby the president and Congress to pass this bill.
Our road system is the life blood of this nation and every trip in this country begins and ends on local roads. In total, local county and city agencies own and operate 78% of this nation’s road network. Supporters of this bill have taken a Fix-it-First position due to the higher cost associated with replacement or creation of new roads / highways. If the funding is available to properly maintain our roads keeping them safe and serviceable, it will add a minimum of five years to their usefulness. In the long run this not only creates additional jobs, it will preserve existing jobs and at the same time provide sustainable means to maintain our nation’s transportation system.
California SEIU State Council has sponsor Bill AB1250, which if passed will provide some protection from public sector employers (counties) from contracting out services normally performed by our members. This bill would require that counties have an open and competitive bidding process that includes demonstrated savings, quality, and performance standards. Failure to have quality and performance standards when contracting out provides for further deterioration of our obligation to service and care for the general public in areas of mental/public health, and support functions for safety and quality of repairs to our infrastructure. Contracting out our jobs also leads to fraudulent and costly alternatives to professionals performing the duties expected by local government often costing more due to paying higher wages to support the contract’s finance department, HR, and management, all of which do not provide for direct services. At the same time, contractors typically hire unskilled, low paid, and un-benefited employees. Typically our elected supervisors / council members never revisit the results of contracting out after they approved it. For example, has anyone seen the sad state of the landscape around the County of Santa Barbara Administrative Building? Just this week, I walked around it and what I noticed were dead plants, weeds, and trash. When our county parks’ crews maintained that site, it was beautiful. Since they contracted it out, it has become a mess. I can assure you that the county is spending more after they contracted it out than when one to two parks maintenance personnel serviced the building in conjunction with the maintenance of our local county parks. We need to fight contracting out of our services at all times, but when contracting does occur, we need to hold management and elected officials accountable for their decisions.
Local 620 is dedicated to providing meaningful, quality service to our members. Part of our responsibility is to support state and federal bills that provide funding to public sector projects, which in addition, support the members and their families that we represent. 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