The year 2016 continues to provide challenges to labor, Local 620, and working families in general. Local 620 has numerous contracts to negotiate this year including our largest, which is the County of Santa Barbara. 2016 also is an election year, which will require additional work from our members and staff on both candidate and legislative issues.
Politically, SEIU continues to work on increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour; provide union protection and benefits to part time employees; and the fight back against special interest groups’ attacks on our agency shop rights.
One Supreme Court case is Friedrichs vs CTA, which was expected to be ruled on by June of 2016. If the Supreme Court 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. Because of the recent passing of Justice Antonin Scalia, we expect three possible scenarios; one is the Supreme Court will continue to proceed to hear the case with the expected outcome to be a four-four vote, which then goes to the lower court, which has already ruled in our favor; the second scenario would be for the Supreme Court to postpone the case until another Supreme Court Justice is appointed; or postpone the case until next year’s session. I will continue to keep you informed as the situation unfolds.
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 & District Board candidates who are seeking endorsements by Local 620. Local 620 needs to provide our resources and support to candidates who 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. We have received numerous letters from candidates resulting in surveys being sent out in early March followed by a town hall meeting so members can select which candidates they wish to endorse.
Local 620 is currently negotiating a successor MOU for our largest unit, which is the County of Santa Barbara starting in the 1st quarter of 2016. 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 for one 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’s government get their priorities straight by considering the need to elevate this year’s contract campaign to include job actions.
In addition to normal negotiations with the County of Santa Barbara, Local 620 served on the county notice to open discussions on equity adjustments per MOU Section 17 in February of 2016. Last year this section made it possible to provide a 5.0% raise to approximately 182 of our members who were out of market by 20.0% or more. It is Local 620’s position to lower the 20.0% threshold down to at least 15.0%.
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.