The Purple Buzz – March 24, 2011

What can we say about Wisconsin?

How about, It’s not Over! Mark April 4th on your calendar or smartphone to show up at a “We Are One” solidarity action happening near you. 

It is also the day Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis in 1968, while supporting sanitation workers’ right to collectively bargain. Joining hundreds of others across the country, here are the cities in 521 that will have rallies on 4/4: Bakersfield, Fresno, Hollister, Redwood City, Salinas, San Jose, Santa Cruz, Visalia.

Join fellow members and “like” our Facebook page at

A special word about respect for workers from Greg Gomez, SEIU 521 Region 5 Vice President.

Kern workers take to the Streets of Bakersfield

Kern County 521 members took the lead in creating weekly rallies that drew members of other unions and members of the community.

The workers are fighting for an honest bargaining against a county Board of Supervisors that wants nothing but steep takeaways aimed at the lowest-paid and most senior workers.

Read more

Fresno County Security Officer protects jobs

Hard work by Fresno County Security Officer and SEIU 521 Shop Steward Rene Torres saved Fresno County jobs!

Torres talked to all five members of the Fresno County Board of Supervisors in the week before the board voted on Feb. 8 whether to privatize Fresno County Security.

Read more

Courts administrator resigns after SEIU exposes mismanagement

In the Not Soon Enough category… The head of the Administrative Office of the Courts, William Vickrey, has resigned. Vickrey oversaw the expansion of the AOC, including a money pit of a computer system, even while local courts were closed for a day a month. SEIU 521 court workers were instrumental in bringing attention to the waste and abuse at the AOC, testifying in Sacramento, and fighting for local services for local people at local courts.

Read and post comments in the Courts blog at

Members push for foreclosure reform

521 members last week held demonstrations at banks in Watsonville and San Jose to support foreclosure reforms.

What they did inside the bank

The power of words: Media training 101

With all the anti-union rhetoric out there, you would think “public employee” is a bad word or something. That’s why it’s critical we tell our side of the story in the media: The story of the struggling middle class.

Members in different regions of 521 are getting media training to get the facts out to the public. Training covers strategic messaging, counter-messaging, interviewing skills and of course classic do’s and don’ts of interviews.

“Members are the best advocates for our union,” said Veronica Rodriguez, Santa Cruz County Chapter President. “The messages we convey represent the human aspect of frontline workers.”

Media training will be scheduled in all regions of 521… Stay tuned for upcoming locations.

Union Trivia

Q: What was the worst industrial disaster in New York history that led to legislation requiring safety standards as well as the formation of a union?

A: The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City on March 25, 1911, was the deadliest industrial disaster in the history of the city of New York and resulted in the fourth highest loss of life from an industrial accident in U.S. history. The fire caused the deaths of 146 garment workers. The fire led to legislation requiring improved factory safety standards and helped spur the growth of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, which fought for better working conditions for sweatshop workers.

View the interactive: How unions succeeded in making our workplace safer.

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