Alameda County members win a new contract after long fight
On Wednesday, April 26, Alameda County workers made it official and voted to ratify their new contract, with 95% YES votes. This followed a lengthy bargaining campaign that started in July of 2022 with the election of a bargaining team and featured near-constant countywide actions, from rallies and marches and unity breaks to petitions, packing the Board of Supervisors meetings to make public comment, and spreading their message with billboards and bus ads.
Finally, after a massive rally and informational picket session outside the Alameda County Board of Supervisors at 1221 Oak Street in downtown Oakland on March 31, the elected bargaining team signed a tentative agreement with management.
For months, the team had been united in demanding that management address their concerns, including a long-running staffing crisis that deprived residents of core services and left workers scrambling to cover the workload. Under the banner of Staff Up Alameda County, they pointed to the County’s inability to recruit and retain the workforce the residents need. The contract will address these issues in various ways, including through:
- 15% raises over three years
- NEW longevity pay, with 1% raises at 10 and 20 years of service, which the County had never had before
- NO increased healthcare costs, which had been a huge priority for the members
- and many other major improvements for workers
Tina Tapia is an administrative assistant in WIC and serves as the chapter president for the Alameda County General Chapter and as the counties chair on the SEIU 1021 Executive Board. She said, “I feel great — I feel like this may be the best contract we’ve ever had. We got some exciting and important new things into our contract, like longevity pay and the ability to file grievances on side letters. We also addressed a hard situation where our members had been losing vacation hours when they would hit a soft cap: now, they can cash out their hours before the hard cap in three years. We also got an added personal day, which is a good win. I could go on and on!
“This is the first time in a while we’ve really done a full campaign for a new contract, and we really got the membership’s support behind us. We kept them involved with what was going on at the bargaining table, and when we call them to action, they came out, again and again. And it worked! That support is really what got us this win. It was great work from our team and the members.
“Now I’m hoping we can expand on the wins we got in this contract, so I hope the members will stay connected. This battle may be over, but there’s always another battle to fight and win! If we can focus on who we’re fighting, and not on fighting each other, we can do great things.”
Cara Williams is an eligibility support clerk in Alameda County’s Social Services Agency, where she serves as chapter President. She described this fight for a contract by saying, “Calling this a process is an understatement! I’m extremely pleased with this contract, though. It’s historical. For those of us in social services, and have been here a while, this may be the best contract in the last 20 years. For me, the 15% COLA and maintaining the status quo on healthcare contributions are huge, and the other big highlights are the new longevity pay, the increased personal leave balances, and the new Juneteenth holiday. We expected that last one, but it’s a positive acknowledgement from the County.
“This win is a testimony to the importance of engaging members and staying the course. It was a long, long fight. Management took us right down to the last days, but at the very end, members kept showing up and the light at the end of the tunnel got brighter, and then…we won!”
Raymond Carlson is a clinical review specialist in the Alameda County Behavioral Healthcare Services Chapter, where he serves as the chapter president and has been the chief shop steward for almost 13 years. He’s been with the County for 15 years. He said, “I sensed a lot of solidarity and cohesion on the bargaining team, and I was heartened to see members show up at actions across the County’s work sites. Seeing the members come out to our lunchtime rally the day we actually clinched the contract gave me a real sense of support from the members. It ended up being a good contract!”