SEIU 1021

SEIU 1021 and a union coalition fight against layoffs in Oakland


In the face of serious budget issues in the City of Oakland, SEIU 1021 members have spoken up repeatedly alongside other working people. On Tuesday, May 14, they called on City Council and Mayor Sheng Thao to prioritize services for the community and avoid furloughs, layoffs, and other cuts

At a press conference outside City Hall early Tuesday morning, Antionette Blue, a 911 dispatcher and the newly sworn in president of SEIU 1021’s City of Oakland chapter, said, “Our team has never been staffed well enough to keep wait times as low as we all want — and the prospect of budget cuts is just too harsh to imagine.”

911 dispatch is far from the only Oakland department that is struggling with a high vacancy rate and an intense need for the services they provide. Zac Unger, president of IAFF Local 55’s Oakland chapter, said, “I haven’t seen this budget yet, but I know damn sure what’s in this budget, and what’s in it is firehouse closures—lots and lots of firehouse closures.”

The budget shortfall appears to come from a pattern of failing to collect business taxes, a pattern stretching back years now. One of the union coalition’s demands is for the City to expend every effort to collect all of the money it is owed by profitable businesses and large landlords, instead of pushing for cuts.

As parking control technician Shirnell Smith said, “The tax collection people are not collecting money from businesses and landlords. You want to cut our positions when we’re on the ground serving the community. You need to chop from the top.”

Antoinette Blue said, ”The work city workers do is too important to jeopardize because of failures to pay or collect taxes. Oakland needs to make sure it’s getting everything that is coming to it from profitable companies and big landlords before it starts making cuts that hurt our city’s lowest-paid workers and deprive residents of services they need.”

The mayor is scheduled to release the budget in the next few days, so keep an eye out for opportunities to make your voice heard!

Watch the whole press conference here.