SEIU 1021

City of Oakland members ratify strong tentative agreement with 14% COLA over 3 years

Worker stand outdoors holding "Staff Up City of Oakland" signs at a picket

Congratulations to SEIU 1021 members at City of Oakland, who voted by almost 97 percent last week to ratify their tentative agreement, which will provide substantial improvements at a time when city workers need them most.

The three-year agreement includes 14 percent cost-of-living adjustments, including 5 percent upon adoption by city council and then an additional 5 percent between July 1, 2023, and January 1, 2024, with another 4 percent phased in between July 1, 2024, and March 1, 2025. It also includes 3 percent equity adjustments for a number of classifications; new holidays (Juneteenth, Cesar Chavez Day, and a new floating holiday); a “pandemic service stipend” in the form of 5 new vacation days for full-time employees (pro-rated for part-timers); improvements to dental coverage; $1.5 million dedicated to converting temporary part-time workers to permanent positions; and more.

City of Oakland Chapter President Felipe Cuevas said, “This contract is a big win for our members, who have showed up and sacrificed for their community throughout the pandemic. To win this contract this early in the process is a testament to the hard work our members have done at the bargaining table, in their worksites, and in the community, helping elect pro-worker candidates to city council.”

The City of Oakland, like so many other SEIU 1021 chapters, has been plagued by short-staffing that is hampering essential services, including 150 vacant positions in public works and 70 in libraries and parks and rec that impede the city’s ability to provide safe, clean streets, parks, and libraries. The raises and improvements to benefits, including the increases in paid time off, should help retain existing staff and recruit new staff to fill the vacancies.

Further, the funding dedicated to converting temporary part-timers (TPTs) to permanent positions is a noteworthy development. The City of Oakland has long been notorious for abusing the use of TPTs instead of prioritizing stable permanent positions.

The City of Oakland agreement highlights the importance of politics and elections to union members, whether they personally feel politically engaged or not. SEIU 1021 worked hard to elect a pro-worker city council, and it has paid literal dividends in the new tentative agreement, which will become a contract when it is adopted by the city council. This year’s negotiations began this spring with management demanding takeaways on medical insurance and no wage increase. Through hard work at the bargaining table, activism at worksites, and the influence of friendly city council members, the agreement reached earlier this month shows the value of organizing at multiple levels.