City of Berkeley members build unity and win for newer members
SEIU 1021 members in the City of Berkeley’s Clerical and Maintenance chapter have negotiated an important win for newer members in their last contract: Their contributions to California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) were to be reduced from 8% to 0% between 2022 and 2026. Longer-term employees did not have this deduction coming from their checks.
Recently, SEIU 1021 members asked the City for the ramp-down to be eliminated and the deduction reduced to 0% immediately. The City agreed, in part because of the work the union has done to create and maintain a favorable political environment. Eliminating this deduction will increase the take-home pay of more than a third of the City of Berkeley’s members.
Santia Wilson, an office specialist III who has been with the City of Berkeley for nearly five years and serves as the chapter treasurer said, “I think this win is amazing! It makes things more fair for newer hires, because they’re doing the same work as some of the older hires, before the rules changed. Even though we should all make the same wage for the same work, newer hires were taking home less. Our union let us know that this was the case, and then went to work to fix it. I wouldn’t have known otherwise, because all I can see is my own check!
“I’m thrilled to be part of a union that fought for this. It speaks volumes about what the union is for. A lot of the things our union does are in the background, and it shows that when we get involved, we can fight for things that we might not even know about at first.”
As the chapter prepares to negotiate the next contract, this is a great sign that when the membership sticks together, they can build unity and get good results. It also shows that there can be opportunities to work collaboratively with management to benefit members.
Sherry Jackson, an accounting office specialist III who has been with the City of Berkeley for nearly six years and also the chapter’s chief steward, said, “I think this is a great win for us. Removing this added deduction puts extra money in our pockets, and that’s especially important now with inflation impacting us the way it has.
“It’s a big win for our union because we were able to negotiate both the original ramp-down in these deductions with our new contract in 2021, and then their total elimination in September 2023, three years sooner than originally negotiated. If anyone has any questions, please come to the next chapter meeting.”