NLRB fair elections rule will help protect workers’ right to vote

Published 4:28 PM Eastern – Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Tyler Prell, 202-730-7278 | tyler.prell@seiu.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Mary Kay Henry, President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), issued the following statement after the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a final rule governing union elections:

“The modest rule change issued today by the NLRB, that will enable workers to vote in union elections with fewer unnecessary delays, is a positive step forward. Due to frivolous litigation and delaying tactics, too many workers have had to wait months, or even years, to vote on whether to form a union. We hope that the Board issues the other components of the proposed rule early next year.

“The new NLRB election procedures will help ensure that workers are able to exercise a fundamental right we hold dear in our country – the right to vote.”

# # #
With 2.1 million members in Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in the Americas. Focused on uniting workers in healthcare, public services and property services, SEIU members are winning better wages, healthcare and more secure jobs for our communities, while uniting their strength with their counterparts around the world to help ensure that workers–not just corporations and CEOs–benefit from today’s global economy. www.seiu.org

Did you like this? Share it:
Leave a comment

City of Santa Cruz: Find the waste

City of Santa Cruz temp workers have been working without a contract for 18 months. Now the city has proposed that the lowest-paid workers pay more than is mandated by the federal government into Social Security.

Temp workers are not full-time employees nor do they have a retirement plan, so why is the city going after the most vulnerable workers with the harshest demands?

We have a better idea.


With our continued weak economy, we need to combat inefficiencies and waste to preserve vital services to our community.

If you see inefficiencies and wasteful practices in your department, help us tell the city about it! If you have cost-saving ideas, we need to hear them!

Go to http://521.seiu.org/santacruzcitywaste to submit your ideas. You may also contact your Internal Organizer Sonia Laracuente at Sonia.Laracuente@seiu521.org

Join the campaign to protect quality services and stand with the city’s seasonal workers as they fight for a fair contract! An injury to one is an injury to all.

Did you like this? Share it:
Leave a comment

Retirees gather for year-end celebration

Retirees gather for year-end celebrationSanta made a special appearance at the annual  SEIU 521 Retiree Christmas Party, joining more than 100 SEIU retirees as well as staff at the festive year-end celebration.

VIP guests included Assembly Member Paul Fong (D-Cupertino), Mt. View City Councilwoman Margaret Abe-Koga, as well as San Jose City Council candidates Brian O’Neil and Steve Kline.

View photo album for this event on our Facebook page.

Did you like this? Share it:
Leave a comment

SEIU 521 Tele-Town Hall

More than 2,000 SEIU 521 members participated in our union’s first telephone town hall on Thursday, Dec. 15 to hear the latest updates on the state budget and coming cuts. Other topics that directly affect SEIU 521 workers included:
Pension reform
Governor Brown’s $7 billion tax initiative
– Paycheck deception ballot initiative

Did you miss it?
Click here to listen to the audio recording. (Wav.)
Due to the file size, it may take a couple of minutes to load.

Have questions about what was discussed during the tele-town hall?
Post your comment or question at the end of this web page.

Luisa Blue, SEIU Local 521 Chief of Staff
Riko Mendez, SEIU Local 521 Political Director

Click here for more information. (PDF)

Did you like this? Share it:
1 Comment

Home care advocates mourn cuts to seniors, disabled

Following Gov. Brown’s announcement that automatic budget cuts will go forward — including a 20 percent across-the-board cut to In-Home Supportive Services — home care advocates and elected officials held a candlelight vigil in San Jose, Dec. 15, to mourn the loss of vital services to seniors and people with disabilities.

During the vigil, home care providers and consumers said they will be devastated by the looming cuts to IHSS services.

“I try to provide the best care for my client, but how will we afford the rent, health care and food with a 20 percent reduction?” said Stella Martinez, an IHSS worker who provides 24/7 care to a client who lives with schizophrenia, hallucinations and depression. “How will she receive the care that she needs?”

Photo slideshow

Earlier this month, a U.S. District Court judge issued a Temporary Restraining Order to halt the 20 percent reduction in IHSS hours until a hearing can be held on this issue. But that only postpones the cuts for now.

For IHSS workers and consumers, that’s not enough.

“With the state cuts, I will lose my health insurance,” said Brunilda Rocha, who provides IHSS services for her 82-year-old mother. “It will be very difficult to survive. Health care and medicine will be too expensive. And seniors will go to convalescent homes where they will not receive proper care.”

The 20 percent reduction in IHSS hours for seniors and people with disabilities comes on top of a previous 3.6 percent reduction that went into effect earlier this year.

Speakers at the candlelight vigil also voiced that more revenues are needed to provide IHSS services, and that everyone – including corporations – should pay their fair share.

“CEO’s and corporations got their big bonuses,” said Rosalie Ramirez, an IHSS worker who provides care for her son. “We got nil. Nothing. This is an outrage. And now they want to cut our services when we have so little left. Corporations and the wealthy must pay their fair share like the rest of us.”

In addition to home care advocates, the vigil was also attended and supported by Assemblyman Paul Fong, and representatives of Assembly members Jim Beall and Jerry Hill.

Statewide, approximately 440,000 seniors and people with disabilities rely on IHSS for help with nutrition; taking medication; bathing; bowel and bladder care; and other tasks necessary for living.

The average IHSS consumer receives about 86 hours of care a month and will lose about 23 hours as a result of this cut. Approximately 250,000 seniors and people with disabilities are expected to be hit with the full 20 percent cut to service hours.

Did you like this? Share it:
Leave a comment

SEIU blasts Tulare County over pact

by David Castellon
Dec. 15, 2011

Before Tulare County supervisors voted Tuesday not to alter the employment contract for most of the county’s full-time workers — keeping their mandatory furloughs in place — they heard harsh words from their union.

Kristy Sermersheim told the supervisors prior to their vote, “You had no intention, whatsoever, to negotiate in good faith” over changes to the contract for the 2,353 employees represented by Service Employees International Union 521.

They total more than half of the 3,800-plus people working full-time for the county, which had requested negotiations with all 10 collective-bargaining units representing county employees. The purpose of the talks was to remove from all county employment contracts requirements to reduce workers’ pay by 1.92 percent and make them take 40 hours of furloughs — or other financial concessions imposed as county cost-cutting measures.

But after the start of the fiscal year, which began July 1, officials determined that money left over from the prior fiscal year’s budget would be about $2 million more than had been expected, so county supervisors voted to eliminate the furloughs this fiscal year.

To do that, they first had to change the labor contracts to remove the furlough and pay-cut requirements.

Nine of the bargaining units agreed to the changes, but negotiations with SEIU broke down, county Human Resources and Development Director Jeff Cardell told the supervisors Tuesday during their regular weekly meeting.

He then recommended that the board vote not to alter SEIU’s contract, leaving the furlough and pay-reduction provisions in place for the workers the union represents.

A report from Cardell’s office claims that the union brought 20 requests for changes to the current contract to the table.

SEIU officials have been at odds with the county since negotiations on a new labor contract broke down earlier this year and the supervisors voted to impose a contract based on the county’s last, best offer — over the union’s objections.

In fact, Greg Gomez, president of the Tulare County SEIU chapter, said last week that as far as he was concerned, no contract exists between the county and the union.

The major bump in the negotiations has been the union’s claim that the county agreed that freezes in promotions and merit pay increases that began in August 2009 would be lifted at the end of the two-year contract. In addition, the union says pay rates and promotion levels for about 1,000 SEIU-represented workers were supposed to be set in August to the level they would be this year had the freezes not occurred.

That was one of the issues that SEIU wanted to negotiate when the county sought to change its labor contract to remove the furloughs. The union also extended an offer to continue the furloughs for the workers it represents in exchange for the merit pay increases and promotions.

“When our attorney discussed this with you, your spokeswoman acknowledged Tulare County was legally responsible to reopen all aspects of the expired contract,” Sermersheim told the board Tuesday. “But in reality, you had absolutely no intention of actually bargaining with us over how to utilize these unanticipated funds.”

After Sermersheim’s statements, the supervisors had no discussion on the matter and voted unanimously not to alter the SEIU contract.

Supervisor Mike Ennis, the board’s chairman, declined afterward to discuss the union’s claims.

And Jean Rousseau, the county’s chief administrative officer, offered only brief comments, saying, “We went to the bargaining table. We negotiated in good faith. It didn’t work out.

“I think it’s really unfortunate that the employees of SEIU aren’t going to benefit from the suspension of the furloughs.”

Sermersheim said after the meeting that she wasn’t surprised how the vote turned out.

“This board does not respect the workers in this county or the union, which is their voice,” she said. “Our members work very hard for this county and do very important work, and they’re not getting what they deserve or the respect from this board to get what they deserve.”

SEIU filed an unfair labor practices claim in August with the California Public Employees Relations Board after the county ended contract negotiations, and Sermersheim said the union will amend the claim to include the county’s actions in the latest negotiations.

She said the state agency could order a hearing to determine if the county bargained in good faith with SEIU and whether the county violated a commitment to end the promotion and merit pay freezes, as the union claims.

Sermersheim said SEIU also is considering taking the county to court.

“We’ve given them the opportunity to settle the legal dispute we have, essentially at a discounted price,” she said.

Tuesday’s board meeting was the last for the year. No others are scheduled until Jan. 10 to give county staff time off for the holidays.

During that meeting, Ennis said, the board is expected to elect District 1 Supervisor Allen Ishida as its new chairman and District 2 Supervisor Pete Vander Poel as vice chairman.

Did you like this? Share it:
Leave a comment

Candlelight vigil to mourn cuts to seniors, disabled

Press Release – Dec. 14, 2011 

Contact: Jerry Jimenez – (408) 219-9636

Candlelight vigil to mourn cuts to seniors, disabled

Home care advocates, elected officials to join

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Following Gov. Jerry Brown’s announcement Tuesday that automatic budget cuts will go forward– including a 20 percent across-the-board cut to In-Home Supportive Services – home care advocates and elected officials will hold a candlelight vigil tomorrow to mourn the loss of vital services to seniors and people with disabilities.

“These automatic cuts will only trigger more pain for our most vulnerable residents,” said Ellen Rollins, President of SEIU Local 521 Home Care Chapter. “This will only cause suffering and higher costs for taxpayers when elderly community members are forced into expensive nursing homes.”

Earlier this month, a U.S. District Court judge issued a Temporary Restraining Order to halt the reduction in IHSS hours until a hearing can be held on this issue, likely within the next four to six weeks.

The 20 percent reduction in IHSS hours for seniors and people with disabilities comes on top of a previous 3.6 percent reduction that went into effect earlier this year.

The additional reductions will gravely endanger seniors and people with disabilities, who will lose the care that allows them to live safely at home.

Statewide, approximately 440,000 seniors and people with disabilities rely on IHSS for help with nutrition; taking medication; bathing; bowel and bladder care; and other tasks necessary for living.

The average IHSS consumer receives about 86 hours of care a month and will lose about 23 hours as a result of this cut. Approximately 250,000 seniors and people with disabilities are expected to be hit with the full 20 percent cut to service hours.


WHAT: Candlelight vigil to mourn looming state budget cuts to In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS)

WHO: Home care providers, consumers, advocates, and elected officials

WHEN: Thursday, Dec. 15, 4:30 – 5:30 p.m.

WHERE: Alfred Alquist State Building, 100 Paseo de San Antonio, San Jose

# # #

The Service Employees International Union is an organization of 2.1 million members united by the belief in the dignity and worth of workers and the services they provide. SEIU is dedicated to improving the lives of workers and their families and creating a more just and humane society. For more information, visit www.seiu521.org

Did you like this? Share it:
1 Comment

Alliance of California Judges calls for “Restoring Balance”

The Alliance of California Judges, an association of judges calling for reform of the AOC, released this report on November, 2011. It shows that the judges and 521 members are united on many of the issues affecting our local courts and our ability to serve the public.

Click here to read the report of the Alliance of California Judges. (PDF)

Did you like this? Share it:
Leave a comment

Gov. Jerry Brown pulls trigger: Colleges, schools and services for elderly and disabled hit

NOTE: Ellen Rollins, President of SEIU 521 Home Care Chapter is quoted in this San Jose Mercury News article.

Media Mercury News Logo
Published in San Jose Mercury News

Posted: 12/14/2011 07:45:48 AM PST
Updated: 12/14/2011 07:45:54 AM PST

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown said Tuesday he would slash nearly $1 billion in funding for higher education, K-12 schools and services for the elderly and mentally disabled, but schools will be largely spared from the devastating cuts many had feared.

Because revenue has fallen $2.2 billion short of the $4 billion it had penciled into the budget because of an improving economy, Brown’s administration is being forced to make $981 million in “trigger cuts” under a budget plan agreed to by Brown and Democratic legislators last June.

The shortfall, however, was below previous estimates, allowing the state to avoid deeper cuts to public schools that could have included reducing the school year by up to seven days.

“I think we’re very fortunate that at least we got half the revenue, and the trigger cuts are under $1 billion instead of almost $2.5 billion,” Brown said. “So we did hope for more and we got more, but not quite as much as we wanted.”

The cuts are the finishing touches to a year in which Brown and the Democratic-led Legislature had to close a $27 billion deficit. And they will be followed with more misery, Brown said, noting that he is in the midst of writing next year’s budget, which is $13 billion below current spending levels.

School district officials across the state breathed a sigh of relief at averting the bulk of the trigger cuts. Although they’ll face a $327.6 million hit for K-12 school funding, it will be colleges, MediCal, child care, counties, local libraries and services for the mentally and physically disabled that will be hardest hit.

The governor plans to cut $102 million from community colleges and $100 million each from the University of California and the California State University systems.

While CSU will not raise tuition mid-year — instead drawing on reserves and delaying purchases and maintenance — fee increases are possible next year.

“I don’t know where it’s going to stop,” said Leroy Madarang, 22, a senior at San Jose State University. “It’s either work more hours, get another job or take out another loan.”

At community colleges, fees will increase by $10, to $46 per unit beginning in the summer. This will be on top of the $10 free hike this fall.

Most K-12 school districts had braced for far worse cuts that would have forced them to negotiate furlough days. Instead, many will dip into reserves. About three-quarters of the K-12 cuts will come from transportation funds, but that doesn’t mean that school buses will stop rolling in January. Districts have flexibility in dipping into different pots of money.

In Contra Costa County, most districts planned for midyear trigger cuts that envisioned the worst-case scenario and have built in reserves to cover them. The Mt. Diablo district also built seven furlough days into its budget, which have not yet been negotiated with its teachers’ union.

Now that state budget cuts are less severe than anticipated, the district will not need to dig as deeply into the $10.7 million reserve it set aside for midyear cuts, and teachers are hoping to avoid the planned furlough days. The district originally set aside $330 per student, but will only need to cut between $11 and $13 per student, said Mark York, executive director of the teachers’ union.

“I think this changes the discussion,” York said. “Certainly, the assumptions on which they based the budget have changed dramatically.”

The governor’s announcement means that the 13,000-student New Haven Unified School District in Union City will no longer need to slice six or seven more days from its calendar to balance its budget, said Rick La Plante, a spokesman for the school district. As it is, New Haven schoolchildren have five fewer days of classes this year. The worst-case trigger cuts scenario might have meant 11 or 12 fewer days of school than there were in 2010-12, when there were 180 days of instruction, he said.

At San Jose State, students are delaying graduation because they can’t get into the courses needed for their majors. Madarang anticipates having to take a sixth year to get his accounting degree. “Students have to go to college to get jobs,” he said. “Unfortunately, there’s no choice but to absorb this.”

The trigger cuts will slash $100 million in programs serving the developmentally disabled at regional centers, and $101.5 million from the In-Home Supportive Services program.

That cut translates into a 20 percent across-the-board reduction in the number of hours for IHSS workers who assist roughly 250,000 disabled and elderly clients so they can remain in their homes by helping them with feeding, bathing and health care. The program that is credited with keeping the homebound from far more costly nursing homes has already sustained deep cuts, some of which are now held up in court.

Ellen Rollins of San Jose cares for her 46-year-old quadriplegic daughter, Terri Carter, under the IHSS program.

After a drunk driver struck Carter in a hit-and-run accident more than two decades ago, Rollins cut short an international career to move in with her daughter and provide her with round-the-clock care when it appeared she would otherwise end up institutionalized.

Carter is a student at San Jose City College and dreams of being an architect. But she needs constant care to remain at home. A 20 percent cut in Rollins’ billable hours would make it even more difficult for the family to survive in Silicon Valley on her wage of $12.20 an hour. And she’s confounded that far more costly state-funded nursing home care is what the governor and policymakers envision.

The governor’s latest plan also proposes a $67.7 million savings in the juvenile justice portion of the budget by raising the costs to counties who send their most serious and violent offenders to state lock-ups. The financial disincentive is heralded by youth advocates, who say it will mean more youth offenders remaining in county facilities closer to their homes and families, where treatment is more likely to take place.

Brown promised more pain ahead in the 2012-13 budget, which he will present to the Legislature next month.

“In three weeks, we’ll have a number of more cuts, for more than $1 billion,” he said. “They will be the same kind of state services, very important to help the poor, elderly, students. But we don’t have the money and we’re going to cut back.”

He invoked a Latin phrase, “Nemo dat (quod) non habet,” which he said translates to “the state cannot give what it does not have.”

Brown, who spent his first six months in office wooing Republicans — in vain — on his plan to extend sales, income and vehicle taxes, will now take his case directly to voters. Last week, he launched a tax initiative for the November elections to raise $7 billion for schools, quickly tipping his strategic hand: He intends to assume the $7 billion in his 2012-13 budget, but will include a provision that would trigger automatic cuts to revoke the spending plans.

Brown hopes the trigger will provide voters with a stark question: To avoid new taxes, would they be willing to take $7 billion away from schools?

“Having the trigger cut at least shows what the alternatives are,” Brown said. “Do you want $12 or $13 billion in cuts in the January budget? I don’t think people want that. They should have a chance to vote on it.”

Republicans said Brown shouldn’t ask voters to increase taxes, though 60 percent of likely voters said they back his tax initiative in a Public Policy Institute of California survey this week.

“The problem continues to be overspending, with an increase of 12 percent for this year’s budget,” said Assemblyman Jim Nielsen, R-Redding. “The fact that revenues have increased over the past year, yet spending outpaces those revenues, argues for more spending control, not a massive tax increase like the governor announced last week.”

Brown and fellow Democrats in the Legislature had hoped for a $4 billion increase in tax revenue through the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. The budget they passed last summer without Republican support was based on those rosy revenue projections, a variety of spending cuts and fee hikes.

Brown defended his decision to assume the new revenues, saying it meant that teachers were not unnecessarily laid off because the cuts were less than they could have been.

“By and large, it was much wiser to assume the $4 billion than to make $4 billion in cuts,” Brown said.

Still, he said that he plans on proposing less in K-12 spending in the 2012-13 budget than what schools will be expecting.

Some Democrats have said they plan to push for new taxes in January to offset the trigger cuts. But they’re unlikely to be successful because they would need GOP votes to reach the two-thirds vote threshold for new taxes — and Republicans have resisted any new taxes.

Brown said he had no expectations he can reach agreement on taxes with Republicans.

“Realistically, I haven’t heard (any Republican) say ‘I’m likely to vote for taxes,'” Brown said. “They ask to get the tax is so high that we’ll lose on the other side. So, the path forward that I’ve charted is the only way.”

Staff writers Karen de Sa, Theresa Harrington, Sharon Noguchi and Katy Murphy contribute to this story. Contact Steven Harmon at 916-441-2101. Follow him at Twitter.com/ssharmon. Read the Political Blotter at IBAbuzz.com/politics.

Trigger cuts

K-12 schools: $327.6 million
Community colleges: $102 million
In-Home Supportive Services: $101.5 million
California State University: $100 million
University of California: $100 million
Department of Developmental Services: $100 million
Juvenile justice: $67.7 million
Child care: $23 million
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation: $20 million
Grants to local libraries: $15.9 million
MediCal: $8.6 million
Prosecution grants: $14.5 million
Total: $980.8 million

Did you like this? Share it:
Leave a comment

Revised budget forecast = more cuts come January

Trigger CutsA revised budget forecast on Tuesday showed California is bringing in $2.2 billion below in anticipated revenues the state had used in passing the budget last summer.

This means $1 billion in mid-year cuts will be coming, starting January 2012.

In total, revenues are estimated to be $86.2 billion, which is $2.2 billion below the Budget Act forecast.

Read the press release on the trigger cuts.

For more information on what programs and services will be cut, click here. (PDF)

Media Coverage:
Sacramento Bee
San Jose Mercury News 
(Ellen Rollins, President of SEIU 521 Home Care Chapter is quoted in this San Jose Mercury News article.)

Did you like this? Share it:
Leave a comment