June 2011

County of Kings: What do our members say?

Robert Sena, Building Maintenance, Kings County

Robert Sena, Building Maintenance, Kings County

“First of all I would like to congratulate Doreen Souza in her new position as internal organizer with SEIU Local 521. She’s a person I know personally and trust! SEIU has been a quiet transition for Kings County employees, which I am proud to be employed by. Working for and with the county has been a positive experience for me. Decisions affecting all of us that are being made by county supervisors and department heads, remain to be in the best interest for its employees and our future.SEIU seems to be making comfortable and intelligent efforts to the employees of Kings County. I look forward to a good co-existence among the county and its employees with SEIU as our Official Union.”
— Robert Sena, Building Maintenance, Kings County

Ron Soares, Road Worker Maintenance III, Kings County

Ron Soares, Road Worker Maintenance III, Kings County

“I’ve been with the county for 18 years. I’ve never heard of Bill Shawhan calling a meeting of the rank-and-file membership or asking our input. It always appeared like he made his own deals.Communication is always key in my book. With SEIU we could have regular meetings where we can give our input.”
— Ron Soares, Road Worker Maintenance III, Kings County

Candace Wilson, Juvenile Corrections Officer, Kings County

Candace Wilson, Juvenile Corrections Officer, Kings County

“Stand up and be heard. Don’t let someone else make your decision for you ever again.”
— Candace Wilson, Juvenile Corrections Officer, Kings County

Jacqueline Cain, City of Hanford

Jacqueline Cain, City of Hanford

“The best thing about SEIU is that our voice matters. We decide what direction to take out contract and how to improve our jobs.”
— Jacqueline Cain, City of Hanford

Alex Arias, City of Hanford

Alex Arias, City of Hanford

“Change can be scary sometimes. But we chose to stick together with SEIU because we wanted professional representation from an organization with a proven track record of protecting jobs.”
— Alex Arias, City of Hanford

Steve Coodey, City of Hanford

Steve Coodey, City of Hanford

“We all need to stick together. Being divided doesn’t accomplish anything but continued empowerment of the management and continued animosity between the workers. SEIU is offering and delivering much better representation. Look at the facts, stop listening to lies.”
— Steve Coodey, City of Hanford

Back to the Kings County chapter web page

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Monterey County close to contract agreement

PRESS RELEASE: June 30, 2011

Contact: Khanh Weinberg – (408) 921-0098

Monterey County contract talks yield tentative agreement County supervisors meet today to OK workers’ cost-saving ideas

SALINAS, Calif. – Monterey County workers from SEIU Local 521 are close to a contract agreement with the county that would cut costs and bring significant savings to the county. The board of supervisors is scheduled to meet today at 1 p.m. to sign off on the tentative agreement, which would need to be voted on by the county workers.

The agreement affirms the commitment made by county workers to bring creative budget solutions to the table and work with the county to secure a fair contract for county employees.

The county has agreed with SEIU to extend layoffs to July 16 to allow both parties adequate time to finalize the agreement. If approved by the general membership, Monterey County workers will start contributing to their pension plan.

“Monterey County workers showed that they are willing to make sacrifices and do their part to help the county meet its budget needs,” said Gregg McWilliams, Business Technology Analyst and SEIU negotiating team member. “We live and work in this community and realize the importance of preserving the services we provide. It was up to us to find solutions in this difficult economic time and we did!”

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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

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Sixth Circuit ruling a tremendous victory

Sixth Circuit ruling a tremendous victory for the health of seniors, working families and future generations

Washington, DC — In response to today’s ruling by the Sixth Circuit Court upholding the individual responsibility provisions of the Affordable Care Act, L. Toni Lewis, MD, Chair of SEIU Healthcare issued this statement:

“With millions of Americans struggling to afford healthcare in the face of rising gas and grocery costs and shrinking paychecks, today’s ruling comes down firmly on the side of common sense and the common good. By upholding the idea that everyone participate in our healthcare system and pay their fair share, today’s ruling also means that no one will be left behind.

“Americans are benefitting from the insurance protections and benefits of the healthcare law every day. Seniors are seeing their prescription drug costs reduced, more college graduates hitting the job market have health insurance they can count on and children with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied care.

“Day by day, the Affordable Care Act continues to increase access to quality, secure, affordable healthcare for seniors and working families. Today’s ruling means that millions more Americans will have this same opportunity.”

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With 2.1 million members in Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in North America. 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

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Monterey Co. workers march for services, contract

PRESS RELEASE: June 29, 2011

Contact: Khanh Weinberg – (408) 678-3364

SALINAS, Calif. – Calling on Monterey County to settle a fair contract with its employees, hundreds of workers and their supporters will gather in Old Town Salinas Thursday to take their message public.

For months, SEIU 521-represented county workers have offered cost saving measures such as suspending vacation buy-backs, reducing vacation caps, and consolidating Human Resources to save jobs. The county has dismissed those ideas.

Thursday’s march and rally aims to highlight workers’ commitment to providing quality services to the community.

 WHAT:           Workers march for services, fair contract

 WHEN:          5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 30

WHERE:       March begins at SEIU Office, 334 Monterey Street in Salinas, ending at the Old Courthouse on Alisal Street.

 # # #

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

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Democracy comes to Ohio: 1.3 million voters force referendum to restore labor rights

Published on The Nation (http://www.thenation.com)

By John Nichols

Opponents of Ohio Governor John Kasich’s push to strip public employees of collective bargaining rights–as part of a national push by newly-elected Republican governors to silence opposition to their cuts in funding for public education and services –needed to collect 231,000 valid signatures to force a referendum that would override anti-labor legislation enacted by Kasich and his allies.

That was a tall order. But the labor and community groups that have come together to defend public employees, teachers, schools and services have exceeded it –by more than one million signatures.

With petitions carrying 1,298,301 signatures packed in 1,500 boxes carried by a semi-truck,  organizers of the “We Are Ohio” [2]campaign and thousands of their allies marched to the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office in Columbus Wednesday — one day before the deadline–to file the paperwork necessary to force a November vote on  overturning Ohio Senate Bill 5 and Kasich’s attack on labor rights.

“We stood at the Statehouse today where thousands of hardworking Ohioans stood earlier this year protesting SB 5.,” declared We Are Ohio’s Melissa. “While their voices were drowned out by the extreme politicians who decided to pass SB 5, today We Are Ohio wants (to) let them know their voices will be heard.”

Wednesday’s festive “Million Signature March” –complete with bagpipes, drum lines and antique fire truck blaring their sirens offered a taste of what is to come in a referendum campaign that labor leaders say will be the most energetic the state has seen in decades–perhaps since the famous 1958 referendum in which historically Republican Ohio rejected an anti-labor “right-to-work” law and swept Democrats into the governorship and other state posts.

If this fall’s referendum passes, as polls suggest it will, the actions of Kasich and the legislature will be voided and collective bargaining rights will be restored for state, county and municipal employees and teachers.

The stunning success of the Ohio petition drive parallels the pushback in states across the country, where citizens have refused to accept the assaults on labor rights, public services and public education proposed by newly-elected Republican governors and their legislative allies.

After last November’s election victories for Republicans in states such as Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida and Maine, new governors and legislative majorities moved quickly to enact a dramatically more extreme agenda than they ran on during the 2010 campaign. At the heart of that agenda has been an attack on labor rights and labor organizations –with an eye toward silencing unions in the workplace and the political sphere, where they remain the strongest defenders of public education and public services.

The Republicans moved quickly because they wanted to use the element of surprise against a battered opposition –and because they wanted to weaken labor in battleground states before the 2012 presidential and congressional elections.

But the anti-labor push met with fierce opposition, first in Wisconsin, where Governor Scott Walker’s proposed legislation drew mass demonstrations of as many as 150,000 people outside the state capitol in Madison. The demonstrations in Lansing, Indianapolis, Columbus and other capital cities quickly grew in size. But so, too, did the recognition that electoral strategies would need to be coupled with the protests.

In Wisconsin, tens of thousands of signatures were gathered in petition drives that have forced recall elections against six Republican senators who backed Walker’s agenda. Primary elections associated with those recalls will begin July 12, with the runoff elections in August. If three GOP senators are removed (and if three Democratic senators who have been targeted by Republicans retain their seats), control of the state Senate will flip to the Democrats and Walker will no longer have complete control of the governing process.

Ohio does not have a recall provision. But it does allow citizens to force a vote on legislation recently passed by the legislature.  The Ohio petition drive, which began a statewide phenomenon, has yielded the largest number of signatures ever gathered in the state’s history. In fact, the almost 1.3 million signatures filed Wednesday represents one of the most remarkable examples of petitioning for the redress of grievances–and of popular democracy–in American history.

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KION-TV covers Monterey Co. worker’s rally for services

The Monterey County Board of Supervisors may have adopted a balanced budget last week, but it did so without considering millions of dollars of cost-saving ideas and budget solutions submitted from its largest employee group, represented by SEIU Local 521.

In fact, the county is calling for $11 million in concessions from workers but cannot say how many jobs and services would be saved. County employees held a “unity break” Friday to show the workers’ resolve for a fair contract.

Watch the TV coverage:
Kion 46, Fox 35

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Support self-determination for people with developmental disabilities

The CA Senate Committee on Human Services will vote today on AB 1244 (Chesbro), a bill that would give people with developmental disabilities the option to keep the services they have now or to choose Self-Determination.

Will you help make self-determination a reality for the thousands of Californians who want more control over their lives?
Click here to fax a letter of support to the committee.

Under Self-Determination:

  • Individuals would have the authority and a budget to control their own services and supports, and to transform their lives by focusing their supports on key life goals
  • Individuals could hire and manage their own direct support workers and dismiss them if it isn’t the right fit
  • Direct support workers employed directly by the individual could seek to improve their jobs and the program by forming a union if they choose

It’s up to us to make sure our State Senators do the right thing.

Write to your State Senator today and tell them: Vote for AB 1244 to support self-determination for people with disabilities and good jobs for their direct support workforce.

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Details on the Democratic budget

Democratic aides provided details this afternoon on the handshake budget deal between Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic leaders to bridge a $9.6 billion deficit.

It maintains parts of the package Brown vetoed nearly two weeks ago:
— $150 million cut each to University of California, California State University
— $150 million cut to state courts
— $200 million in Amazon online tax enforcement
— $2.8 billion in deferrals to K-12 schools and community colleges
— $300 million from $12 per vehicle increase in DMV registration fee
— $50 million from fire fee for rural homeowners
— $1.7 billion from redevelopment agencies
— Higher tax receipts (now worth $1.2 billion from May and June)

The new budget rejects some parts of that package:
— $1.2 billion from selling state buildings
— $900 million from raising a quarter-cent local sales tax
— $1 billion from First 5 commissions
— $500 million cut in local law enforcement grants
— $540 million deferral to University of California
— $700 million in federal funds for Medi-Cal errors

And it adds the following:
— $4 billion in higher projected revenues in 2011-12, with triggered cuts
— 1.06 percentage point sales tax swap that redirects money to local governments for Brown’s “realignment” plan rather than to the state. Sales tax rate will still fall 1 percent on July 1.

The $4 billion “trigger” plan bears some explaining.

First, the plan requires Brown’s Department of Finance director, Ana Matosantos, to certify in January whether the $4 billion projection is accurate. She will use revenue totals for July to December and economic indicators to project the remainder of the fiscal year.

The “trigger” cuts are essentially in three tiers, based on how much of the extra $4 billion comes in.

Tier 0: If the state gets $3 billion to $4 billion of the money, the state will not impose additional cuts and roll over any balance of problem into the 2012-13 budget.

Tier 1: If the state gets $2 billion to $3 billion of the money, the state will impose about $600 million of cuts and roll over the remainder into the 2012-13 budget. The $600 million in cuts include a $100 million cut to UC, a $100 million cut to CSU, a $100 million cut to corrections and a $200 million cut to Health and Human Services.

Tier 2: If the state gets $0 to $2 billion of the money, the state will also impose up to $1.9 billion in cuts, including a $1.5 billion reduction to schools that assumes seven fewer classroom days. It also includes a $250 million elimination of school bus transportation (except for that which is federally mandated). Cuts will be proportionate to how much of the first $2 billion in revenues the state gets. State will also impose the Tier 1 cuts.

Update (6 p.m.): Post updated to reflect new estimates and a $100 million change in the triggered cuts.

Read original article at SacBee.com >>

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Multiple rallies rock SEIU 521’s Region 2

Rally in Monterey County June 24, 2011

Workers rally for fair contract, Monterey County

From Watsonville to Salinas to Santa Cruz, SEIU 521 Region 2 members turned out by the hundreds to call on public leaders to protect services, save jobs, and walk the talk of respecting public employees.

Arlene Samrick, SEIU steward and bargaining team member for
Unit J in Monterey County,  questioned the whole process the county has employed:

“I am here to ask – where is the transparency in government?  How will these changes make services better for our community? Why is the county asking for millions of dollars in concessions from its lowest paid employees when there is in fact no budget shortfall for the next two years?”

Meanwhile, in Santa Cruz County, workers are fighting back county proposals that would leave working families struggling even harder in this dire economy. Said Jane Christmann:

“Higher paid management needs to take more responsibility.”

Photos from this week’s rallies are posted on SEIU 521’s Facebook

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Modesto stands up for California!

Members of SEIU Local 521 joined members of the community in Modesto on June 23 to Stand Up for California! The community urged Sen. Anthony Cannella to support our right to vote on extended revenues and a balanced approach to a balanced budget.

Farmer Cindy Lashbrook explained that the revenues will support California’s rural economy. With farm equipment theft on the rise, law enforcement needs resources to help protect businesses. And public servants save farmers millions of dollars by detecting diseases in soils and crops.

The community was joined by the choir from Revival Center United Pentecostal Church, which Cannella attends.

We’re continuing to work with businesses and community leaders to urge our legislators to do what’s best for all California.

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