In 2015, we achieved numerous positive victories throughout Local 620’s jurisdictions. For the most part, our members have received some positive growth in salaries and benefits, but nowhere near what is deserved. In the County of Santa Barbara, we were able to negotiate a 5.0% equity adjustment for approximately 181 county employees whom we represent, and several promotions for the attorney whom we represent within the Public Defender’s Office. Several classifications in the cities of Santa Barbara, Arroyo Grande, Atascadero, and other smaller jurisdictions received equity adjustments as well.
2015 also resulted in several changes to Local 620. Last year, we were able to completely staff up to our normal staffing level of nine paid staff; which included the creation of a Field Support Representative (replacing the deleted Intake position) and filling a vacant Field Representative position. Both individuals whom we hired have been performing an excellent job and have brought with them new ideas that already have proven to enhance services to our members. Local 620 also provided growth to existing staff by reclassifyingone Field Representative to a Field Operations Supervisor, which includes the supervision of the Santa Barbara office and a Field Support Lead person who will take the lead along with the Field Support Representative for steward training, field campaigns, and organizing unrepresented employees. Also in 2015 Local 620 purchased and remodeled our new Santa Maria office without the need to obtain any loans. The funds used for the new office and the remodeling were made possible by many years of saving strictly for the purpose of owning our own building. We are now looking forward to continuing to set aside funds for the sole purpose of purchasing another office in our southern region.
Looking forward to 2016, Local 620 and labor are facing many challenges, some positive and some not so good. January 1st did bring good news to our hourly members employed by the City of Santa Barbara. Because many work for minimum wage, they have had their hourly rate increased to $10 per hour; in the meantime, SEIU is still fighting to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Labor is still fighting special interest group’s attacks on agency shop laws. One case has been sent to the Supreme Court with an expected ruling by June of 2016. If the Supreme Court then rules against organized labor, similar to a few years back, freeloaders will again receive the benefit of union activity without having to pay their fair share.
Local 620 will again be negotiating a successor MOU for our largest unit, the County of Santa Barbara, starting in the first quarter of 2016. Typical to every time we negotiate with the county, their chief negotiator has already come out stating that it is going to be a tight budget year and he does not see a lot of money for raises because their priority is a new jail. I, for one, am tired of the same old line of bull; we hope the county membership will take a strong stand this year and fight back. Unlike our last three-year contract, I will not be recommending a multiyear contract unless the county can commit to fair salary increases for every year of the contract and to deal with classifications that we represent which are out of market by 1.0 to 20.0+ percent. I no longer recommend we take salary re-openers in multiyear contracts because of the lack of good faith bargaining from the county; they are just providing lip service, with no intent to come to the table and negotiate a fair across the board salary increase. If we are to achieve a fair contract from the county, then our members have to unite, be willing to involve themselves in job actions, and refuse to accept any contract that does not include fair salary and benefit increases whether it is a one year contract or multiyear contract. I am tired of their excuses and empty promises; I hope the membership is as well. Similar to other counties in California, membership may need to help Santa Barbara County government get their priorities straight by considering the need to elevate this year’s contract campaign to include possible strike activity.
2016 is also an election year. Membership and staff will be working to get candidates elected who actually care for their employees and the community at large. Since 2008, Local 620 has worked with many elected officials, many who have not supported their own employees, even after we made major sacrifices to balance their budget and continued to provide high levels of service to the public while operating with reduced staffing levels. This year we need to take a better look at candidates running in the 1st, 3rd, and 4th District of the County as well as City Council and District Board candidates who are seeking endorsements by Local 620. Local 620 needs to provide our resources and support to candidates that not only will come to us during election time, but who will stand with us after they are elected and who actually have enough ethics or loyalty to their employees to support them throughout their term of office. The purpose of government is to provide service to the public and we are the ones who provide that direct service. It is time that elected and appointed leadership in county, city, and district government either learns or is reminded of this. When deciding whom we want to support, we need to seriously look at what these candidates stand for, look at their record of support for their employees and how much they may be giving us lip service or if they actually are willing to stand by their words that they provide in the surveys and at our town hall meetings.
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