North Coast members showcase our union power through unity breaks
Up and down the North Coast this past month, SEIU 1021 members have used Unity Breaks to demonstrate that we’re united in our union and ready to fight for our communities. Hundreds of members have participated in unity breaks from Chapters including Mendocino County, City of Fort Bragg, the Sonoma County Office of Education, Mendocino College, and more.
These Unity Breaks recognized the essential work that our members have carried out over the past 18 months-keeping services going, benefits in place, children and the elderly protected, and supporting the education of our children and college students.
When asked why she thought it was important for members to participate in unity breaks, Julie Beardsley, Mendocino County Chapter President, said, “It sends a message that we are unified, and allows our members to meet other members, to learn about issues, meet the Executive Boards for each Chapter, and brings home the message that we are stronger together.”
Julie went on to talk about the challenges members have faced over the last year and the priorities for her Chapter. “For years, Mendocino County management allowed the public health department to be understaffed, with little or no leadership. When the pandemic occurred, the county had to scramble, putting non-medical, non-public health workers from random departments into positions public health workers should have occupied. Fortunately, we were able to deal with the situation, but it should not have happened like this. We also pushed management to make sure safeguards were in place during the pandemic to make sure our members were safe. We have pushed to make sure all staff who were able to do so could work remotely,and to make the ongoing telework policy equitable and fair.”
Heidi Corrado, a Program Administrator in the Public Health Department, attended two of the unity breaks, saying, “It was great to see all of these faces. Because of the pandemic, I haven’t been able to see or spend any quality time with my colleagues or coworkers. The atmosphere was so good—everyone was so glad to see each other. And of course, we did it all outside, socially distant, and COVID-safe. Mendocino County is going into negotiations soon. For that reason alone, it’s important for us to showcase unity. It’s also important right now because we’ve had work from home and everyone is scattered all over. To say that despite everything that’s going on, that we are still able to come together as a union and as a team says a lot.”
Both Julie and Heidi stressed the importance of making improvements in the workplace during the next round of contract negotiations, raising concerns around health and safety, improving communication from management to frontline workers, strengthening our membership, and fair compensation.
“Our members are the intersection between the government and the community. Our community faces so many challenges that they have no control over—public safety power shut-offs, fires, and more. County employees are here to meet their needs, but we need help. We need more hands on deck to pitch in,” said Heidi.
Our path to winning the improvements we need at work and in our communities is through being united and strong. Stay tuned for ways you can get involved in the fight for a strong and fair next contract at your worksite!