North Coast News – August 2021
Check out what SEIU 1021 members are working on from Marin to Del Norte County!
All over the North Coast region, members and chapter leaders have been taking our fights to the boss, advocating for better wages, safer working conditions, and increased benefit support from their employers.
Keep reading to see what’s new up and down California’s North Coast this month for SEIU 1021 members.
Upcoming Meeting Calendar
Member Leadership meeting
- Tuesday, August 24 at 6pm
North Bay Labor Council Labor Day
- Monday, September 6, 2021
- Place: Food Pick-up Teamsters Local 665 (1371 Neotomas Ave., Santa Rosa)
- Time: Breakfast Pick-up 7:30-9 AM, Program 9:30-10:30 AM
- Monday, September 6, 2021
Sonoma County COPE
- Tuesday, September 21 at 6 pm
No on Governor Recall, No on Sonoma County DA recall events:
North Bay Labor Council Virtual Phone Bank
- Mondays & Wednesdays 5:30-8:30PM
- Sign up here
- Mondays & Wednesdays 5:30-8:30PM
- North Bay Labor Council / Sonoma County Dems Canvassing
SEIU 1021 Member to Member Virtual Phone Bank
- Thursdays 4:30 – 8:00 PM
- Sign up here
Contact your union rep for meeting links and information
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!
Mendocino County workers fight back against outsourcing
The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office has proposed outsourcing food and laundry services at the Jail and Juvenile Hall, putting quality nutrition for inmates and good, union jobs in the community at risk.
The Sheriff’s Department is using the pandemic as cover to push for outsourcing this work. An outside contractor would face the same recruitment and retention challenges that the County experiences. Finding qualified staff who can pass the background checks and work effectively with and supervise inmate workers is hard. We’re fighting back and asking members to sign our petition opposing the outsourcing of these jobs.
For years, a small team of SEIU 1021 members has worked hard to provide our County’s inmate population with healthy and nutritious meals three times per day, seven days per week. Roughly 300 meals need to come out of their kitchen at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This team has often worked short-staffed but has always made sure the job gets done. Outsourcing these jobs and abandoning these workers is unacceptable.
SEIU 1021 members have been there for the County through thick and thin, making sure the essential work of feeding our incarcerated population gets done. We ask that the County honor the commitment of these workers by standing with us against outsourcing.
It only takes a cursory search online to find a multitude of horror stories describing what privatization does to the cost and quality of food in jails and prisons. We must speak out against this dangerous plan that will surely increase costs, decrease quality, and abandon our members who have served this County through thick and thin for years.
SEIU 1021 members fight back against expensive & undemocratic recall elections in Sonoma County and across California
Click to watch SEIU 1021 North Coast VP Mary Sandberg discuss why she’s voting NO on the recall
In 2021, SEIU 1021 members and our families will be faced with some important choices. In Sonoma County, we have a wealthy developer trying to oust the Sonoma County DA, we are facing a statewide anti-union recall of Gov. Newsom, and a CalPERS Board of Administration election where SEIU members have endorsed Jose Luis Pacheco and David Miller to win seats on the nation’s largest pension fund. In all of these elections, we can make the choice to protect our futures and invest in our communities, but we have to get out and vote, then talk to our friends and neighbors about doing the same.
“In both the recall of Governor Newsom and the Sonoma County DA, we have examples of the super wealthy trying to bully elected officials and our communities by buying an election outcome. These recalls represent an attack on democracy and voter participation. Both are an effort by a well-funded minority to recall people who were duly elected. In the case of the Gubernatorial recall, it’s a clear case of wealthy, anti-union forces trying to undo the progress we’ve made in California over the last decade,” said Amos Eaton, a Senior Account Clerk with Sonoma County and SEIU 1021 Localwide Treasurer.
Amos continued, “Here in Sonoma County, we have a wealthy developer and his family using their millions to settle a personal grudge. In both instances, it’s hardworking Californians who will have to pick up the tab, as the Sonoma recall is estimated to cost our County up to nearly $1 million and the recall campaign against Newsom is estimated to cost our state $276 million. Ultimately, it’s not healthy for our communities to allow the wealthy to use their deep pockets to intimidate elected officials and undermine our democracy.”
This attack really affects so much. The Governor and the DA have to stop or curtail the work we elected them to do to fight the campaign. Resources all across the state have to be directed to an election. Our union and every other organization supporting these officials have to stop what we’re doing and engage in this fight. We all dance to the tune of the wealthy. Vote no on these recalls to tell the wealthy NO, this won’t work, you can’t fool us,” Amos concluded.
Gubernatorial recall ballots are already arriving in mailboxes and the election is right around the corner. Governor Newsom has been a great partner to SEIU 1021 members and working families across California. SEIU members have endorsed voting NO on the anti-union recall of Governor Newsom, and are recommending not filling out a selection for his replacement.
Together, we have won some really important victories under Governor Newsom, which the recall puts at risk:
- Guaranteed paid sick leave for every worker during the pandemic
- Expanded access to child care and rate increases for child care providers
- Prevented millions of evictions with a $5.2 billion rent relief program
- Provided PPE for our healthcare workers
- Fought for school funding and signed into law the largest increase in California history.
It’s also important that members participating in the CalPERS retirement program vote in the upcoming Board of Administration election. SEIU members are supporting Jose Luis Pacheco and David Miller for CalPERS because we know the importance of electing administrators who will protect our retirement security.
“We need CalPERS Board members protecting union interests and reflecting our values. We need to elect Board members who represent the needs and interests of working-class Californians, not Wall Street and management,” said Cynthia Landry, Chair of the SEIU 1021 Retirement Security Committee.
“Having Jose Luis Pacheco and David Miller on the CalPERS Board of Administration will mean that our voices are heard, our pensions are protected, and we have a seat at the table,” said Pete Albert, Chair of the SEIU 1021 Retiree Council.
Read more from Cynthia and Pete, along with interviews with both candidacies and the perspectives they bring to the CalPERS board, below:
An interview with Jana Blunt, Sonoma County Chapter President
What’s your name and position, and how long have you been active with our union?
My name is Jana Blunt, and I’m a Senior Clerk Recorder Assessor Specialist at the County of Sonoma in the Recorder’s Office. I’m also the SEIU 1021 Sonoma County Chapter President, and I’ve been an active member of our union for 7 years
Had you been in a union before? What’s the difference between a union and non-union workplace?
This is my first union-represented job but I grew up in a union household and my dad was a Teamster. When I got out of my last private-sector job before starting at the County, I refused to ever work at a nonunion worksite ever again. I had some horrific experiences in private sector workplaces in healthcare and nonprofits. The working conditions were so incredibly bad. I didn’t care how long it took, I was going to get on somewhere I would be represented by a union.
The pandemic has really underscored the difference of having a union and the benefits have never been so clear. If it weren’t for our union, I can only imagine how much worse the pandemic would have been and how many more of my colleagues and I could have been infected and impacted by COVID-19. Instead, we have worker protections and our collective strength if our employer ever became abusive or unresponsive to our needs.
What influenced your decision to run for union office?
Primarily peer pressure and bullying (laughing). In all seriousness, we had a great President in Joel and he and the other leaders who were elected to our Chapter Board were people I was interested in spending more time with.
I started off as a Strike Captain before I became a steward. We went on strike in 2015 and the experience and solidarity were so life-affirming. We have nearly 5,000 employees at the County and over half are represented by SEIU 1021. The strike really propelled me to say, “Okay, I need to become even more involved in this.” Once the strike was over, I became a steward and then joined the Chapter Executive Board as Secretary-Treasurer, then Vice President, and now President. I was also on the negotiations team for the last contract.
What does it mean to be an SEIU 1021 Chapter President?
It means putting your own opinions and ideas out the door at times to make sure you’re truly speaking for the membership, which is really important. It means reaching out to as many people as possible and hearing their voices. It’s not always comfortable for individual employees to come forward and voice their concerns to management, so I see myself as a conduit between the members and management and I let them steer me.
Why is it important for members to get active and involved in our union?
The union is nothing without the members. A lot of people make the crucial mistake of talking about the union like it’s an entity separate from themselves, but it’s not. It’s only as strong as we are collectively. If an individual is feeling disenchanted or disillusioned, those are probably just issues they’re having with themselves. I’ve been there—we’ve all been there—when we are wishing that things were going better. That kind of frustration can only be cured by becoming more involved.
SEIU is fabulous, the staff is great, but folks have to understand that they can’t do everything for us. They’re there to help us help ourselves. If people have issues and concerns they want to be solved or addressed, the first step is to get involved and help us do something as members. Once people understand how that works, it’s usually enough of a catalyst to get them to step forward. People don’t always understand that they’re a leader yet, or that there’s a place for them to be a leader until they take that step.
What are ways members can get involved or take leadership roles in their Chapter?
Be as creative as you want! No matter what you’re interested in, there’s a place for you. The great thing about our leadership, and I’m sure about the leadership in all our Chapters, is that we all have different strengths and interests. Some of us are purely activists—we don’t necessarily get involved in the day-to-day grievances but are there for community activism. Others are involved because they’re interested in COPE and electoral politics. Others are badass people who really excel in negotiations or in circumstances where they’re defending, representing, and advocating for members.
None of that is necessarily what you need to be interested in—maybe you bring something to the table that we aren’t already handling. People need to realize that the union is us and we are the union. Whatever you are passionate about or want to be changed and improved, you’re adding that to the strength we have as a union. You don’t have to worry about fitting into a particular mold—be yourself, your own shape and size with your own strengths, and there will be room for you in our union.
Members-at-large who want to attend the SEIU 1021 2021 Virtual Convention: registration begins on Friday, August 27
Beginning Friday, August 27, registration for non-delegate members will open for the SEIU 1021 Virtual Convention. SEIU 1021 Convention Delegates, the Local Executive Board, and guests will be part of an exciting convention program that includes dynamic speakers and includes the presentation of our convention platforms that will guide our union’s work for the next three years.
Our convention member leaders seek to “Organize Good Trouble” to improve the lives of our members and the lives of our community residents by approving plans and projects around Economic Justice, Racial Justice, Climate Justice, Unions For All, Reclaiming Our Democracy and Member Unity and Power. These convention platforms are more than just titles or headers. These platforms will determine where we focus our organizing efforts, what political movements we will support, and what stance we will take on social issues as a Union. In California we must build power for working people, that is why we are championing Unions for All.
“We’re all very aware of how climate change is impacting us. Living in this state, we’re on the forefront of it. We’re being impacted by drought, we’re being impacted by fires—it’s important to bring those conversations into your discussions about what the union wants to do and how the union can impact these things,” said Mary Sandberg, SEIU 1021 Vice President of the North Coast, when discussing the role our union can play in achieving climate justice. “We can have a big impact, through our strength as a union and through our voice as workers who are on the frontlines helping people recover through these disasters.”
Advance registration is required for all non-delegate members. Visit www.1021convention.org on Friday, August 27 to register and learn more.