SEIU 1021

Member Spotlight: Troyle Tognoli Retires After Decades of Bringing Needed Change to Mendocino County

Member Spotlight: Troyle Tognoli Retires After Decades of Bringing Needed Change to Mendocino County

When Mendocino County Chapter Vice President Troyle Tognoli retired last month after over 19 years working for the County and another 10 years before that working with the Mendocino County courts, she left a gap that will be hard to fill, both within the County and within SEIU 1021’s Mendocino County chapter.

Troyle’s passion is supporting others to thrive–from women trying to escape intimate partner violence to young people arrested for drug-related crimes to coworkers seeking job advancement. She put together protocols for the courts to work directly with the local battered women’s shelter, so that when women came seeking help, they would actually be supported instead of subjected to more trauma. She found her professional calling as a county employee in juvenile probation, drug court, helping to support the development of Mendocino Counties Victim Witness Program as a volunteer, and later, working diligently to support the implementation of WRAPAROUND, a steady stream of federally funded dollars  designed to  to help families move forward. When COVID-19 erupted on the scene in 2020, she helped get local databases off the ground, get ethnicities included in their tracking, and worked on case investigations and contact tracing all year. 
An activist at heart, she also found her calling in her union. “It’s been a wonderful journey,” she said. “I’m really going to miss our team, our union. A huge part of me really enjoys that work, holding our community accountable. Being with the union allowed me the opportunity to call into place the elephants in the room.”

She is proudest of her work with her fellow union members to secure a contract that allowed for real improvements in people’s lives and in the community. “We were deeply committed to finding those dollars and saving our communities. We couldn’t afford to shop; we had staff living in their cars, staff on various aid packages. Housing was and still is a huge issue, so even if you were able to secure a County job, you really couldn’t afford to live here and eat and pay your bills, and if you did, you needed roommates, and everything around us was going up. An apartment that rented for $400 five years ago is now $1800 a month. That’s fine for those who own the building, but if the income is not in line with the average cost of living, then you have employee burnout, which leads to short staffing.” 

It was personal too!–times were tight at home, and she knew she needed to be earning more to make ends meet. “I decided instead of getting a second job I needed to get on the negotiations team and negotiate a better package. I needed $200 a month more; I ended up getting quite a bit more than that.”

Troyle and her coworkers understood the problem had to be tackled not just with the county government, but also with the business community. “When we went to our local businesses and rallied our local community, it was a beautiful experience. We had roundtable discussions and made it clear they couldn’t sit on the sidelines and say, ‘County employees are complaining again.’ We had to come together with a much stronger voice, because without our dollars, your businesses won’t survive.”

Like so many great union leaders, Troyle became chapter president almost by accident. “My coworker, Kort Peterson, decided he wanted to go back to school to better provide for himself. One day he came over and said, ‘I really need to step aside from this, and you’re a fantastic person, I’m hoping maybe you can cover for me until I graduate.’ I told him well, OK, we can do it. Once I even uttered the slightest intent, I had a barrage of people come to me and tell me to do it. I covered for him, and the next round, I ran for president and won. The last time was vice president, which was great, because I had a chance to step back–even though your heart is passionate, it really does take a village.” 

Just because Troyle is retired, don’t expect her to disappear. “I have a Black Lives Matter project I started a couple years back during the George Floyd uprisings; then I started a public safety advisory board and petitioned our local city council and Board of Supervisors  to really look at it, and now they’re looking to recruit various supervisorial districts and appointments for that board, so I’m going to continue to push and prod  at  that. I want to get as much travel in as I can, spend a lot of time in my yard, and work on various community projects with the Lauren Sinnotts of the world and local equity and diversity groups. I’m looking forward to things I can accomplish over a period of time.”

In fact, the new Public Safety Advisory Board that Troyle and Black Lives Matter Mendocino created is seeking representatives for all five districts to sit on the board and dedicate the time needed to have real oversight of the sheriff and all county offices. If you are interested, and/or would like to be added to the Black Lives Matter Mendocino mailing list, please contact

And how is retirement going so far? “Retirement is so cool! I received my first pension payment and I’m thinking, oh my God, this is incredible. That’s what the union is. We know that being part of a union is one of the largest investments you can get. It’s a lifetime investment that impacts you and every generation behind you because you can get a pension and buy a home. Whenever our local needs me, I will be on the frontline. My coworkers are still in great peril. We need to finish the push for better working conditions so that we all may move up the rung TOGETHER.”