SEIU 1021

When We Mobilize Around Our Values, We Win
A reflection from SEIU 1021 President Theresa Rutherford on the November 2022 Midterm Elections


SEIU Local 1021 scored numerous victories large and small in the 2022 midterm elections. I could not be more proud of the hard work our members and staff put in over the past three months to make sure that our members and our communities understood what was on the ballot and turned those ballots in.

We accomplished so much. Passing a ballot measure to fund critical public services in the City of Chico through a small 1 percent cent sales tax increase. Electing a pro-worker city council in Oakland. Passing a ballot measure to provide a much-needed cost-of-living adjustment for retirees in San Francisco. Renewing a small sales tax to fund public libraries in Mendocino County. Electing a progressive mayor in Richmond who will stand up for city workers and stand up to Chevron.

Most election results will not be final for days, perhaps even a couple of weeks, and several important elections are currently too close to call due to the number of ballots left to be counted. We are just beginning to see the fruits of our efforts.

Our hard work in this election was driven by our values: the dignity of all labor; protecting and expanding human rights, from reproductive rights to civil rights to healthcare and housing; securing the future of our planet for our children and grandchildren; equal opportunities for everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or creed.

Victories like the election of Wanda Williams to the Solano County Board of Supervisors places a SEIU member on the governing board. In Marin County, our members and staff helped elect two out of three of our endorsed candidates to the municipal water district – a crucial win that will go a long way to protect fair wages and benefits for SEIU 1021 members. We have elected a true champion for labor in Liz Ortega, who won her race for California Assembly District 20, and we are optimistic that Aisha Wahab will be the next state senator for District 10 as her lead grows with every batch of new ballots.

We helped pass ballot measures in both Mendocino County and San Francisco to preserve our libraries. In Oakland, we won seven ballot measures to address the homelessness crisis by creating new housing and expanding eviction protections as well as taxing corporations and increasing funding for Oakland Unified public schools.

Despite a spate of notable triumphs, our efforts fell short in some key races. We are very disappointed that Proposition O was voted down by San Francisco after corporate landlords raised over half a million dollars to blast misinformation about it. We are also disappointed that San Francisco voters elected a former police spokesperson over groundbreaking progressive candidate Honey Mahogany for D6 Supervisor.

At the state and national levels, this election provided many reasons for cautious optimism. While I have no illusions that the next couple of years will be easy, I am confident that SEIU 1021 members will rise to the challenge. We all have a responsibility to participate in our democracy – not just by voting, but by educating our coworkers, families, friends, and neighbors about the stakes and mobilizing them to vote. I have great faith that together we can do it. This election has shown me the power we have when we unite and let our values guide us. I look forward to the journey ahead with all of you.