SEIU 1021

City of Oakland members speak out against service cuts, layoffs, and furloughs


Last summer, SEIU 1021 members worked closely with Oakland mayor Sheng Thao and progressive councilmembers, including Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas, Carroll Fife, and Rebecca Kaplan, to ensure that the city’s budget reflected Oakland values, even in the face of significant deficits.

Now, the city budget is facing a deficit of $175 million, and SEIU 1021 members are once again at the forefront, calling for creative solutions that preserve vital services and don’t impose furloughs and layoffs on union members.

Last week, SEIU 1021 City of Oakland members packed city council chambers to speak up for services and fight off the threat of cuts. Oakland’s city workforce is already badly understaffed, even in crucial areas like 911 dispatch. As KRON 4’s Sara Stinson reported: “Feder quickly called 911, but says she was put on hold by dispatchers” for more than six minutes.” One SEIU 1021 dispatcher who spoke anonymously with the reporter confirmed that even this vital service is currently understaffed.

Shirnell Smith works for the City of Oakland as a parking control technician. She has worked for the city for more than 35 years. She said, “I’m a worker here, and my job matters. I’m the one that the little old lady sees and thanks me for enforcing the area in her neighborhood. We’re the little people in this city but we make a big difference in our community, and we want you all to look at us and see more than just a cut. We matter in this city. When you’re thinking about these cuts–as we’ve said many times before–chop from the top.

Felipe Cuevas, a heavy equipment mechanic who serves as the SEIU 1021 City of Oakland chapter’s president, summed up the labor delegation’s perspective when he concluded “More boots, less suits!”

The campaign against cuts is just beginning, so if you’d like to serve on the union’s Budget Deficit Workgroup, click here.