Year In Review: 2015

Year In Review

Service Employees International Union, Local 521 represents 41,000 public and nonprofit, private-sector workers in the central Bay Area region and in the Central Valley.

As 2015 draws to a close, we can be proud that we stood up when it mattered: Fight for $15; immigration reform; retirement security; quality affordable childcare; and more. We are stronger and more committed than ever to putting Community First. At work and in our communities, we showed through our local actions and national campaigns for social and economic justice that we are all in this together for the safety, health and well-being of working people and families.

Go down memory lane to revisit SEIU Local 521’s strongest moments of 2015.

Community First Contract Wins of 2015

2015 Contract WinsTogether, we won stronger contracts to help us recover from the painful cuts and stagnant wages we’ve endured since the Great Recession of 2007.

Our contract wins in the City of Santa Cruz, Fresno County, Kings County, Santa Clara County, Tulare County, and the Superior Courts of Tulare County all highlight the solidarity our members have shown over the years despite the challenges.

These 2015 contract wins, along with wins in other chapters, will allow members to continue the important work we deliver in our communities every day.

New Chapters and New Members

2015 New ChaptersSanta Clara Family Health Plan, BARC, and Community Child Care Council of Santa Clara County, Inc. (4Cs) joined the SEIU Local 521 family. As we enter the new year, we will continue the fight for strong first contracts!

American Red Cross workers of SEIU 521 joined colleagues from across the country to win the first ever national union contract in October, standing as a shining example of the power of collective bargaining.

In addition to our new chapters and the new coalition of Red Cross workers, 10,045 new members joined SEIU during the “Unite, Fight, Win” campaign in October. To our new members: Thank you for joining! You’re part of a union of people working to build an economy that puts workers, students, families, and communities first.

Stewards Standing Up

All year, stewards stand up for our rights at work. This year was no different when stewards across the Local teamed up with CED (Contract Enforcement Division) to stop management’s unlawful acts. Stewards enforced workplace safety, the right to discuss employment matters with co-workers, and won members’ unpaid wages.
Read more victories here:

Learn how to become a steward:

In Remembrance of our Local 721 Brothers and Sisters

Vigil in San JoseOur entire SEIU family mourns with the families of those affected by the attacks in San Bernardino on December 2, 2015.

SEIU 521 members and community members held candlelight vigils in San Jose, Campbell, Salinas and Bakersfield to remember the victims, 10 of which were SEIU 721 members.

You can contribute to the SEIU 721 Member and Family Support Fund at

Better Care for Children, Seniors and People with Disabilities

2015 ChildCareThis year we made strides in the fight better child care services and home health care services.

In July, we won the reversal of the 7% cut in IHSS (In-Home Supportive Services) hours so our most vulnerable people and seniors can receive the care they need at home.

Our child care providers continue to be at the forefront of the fight to improve child care for the future of California. This year 14,000 more working families gained access to quality child care or preschools, and providers won an increase of 4.5% in the reimbursement rates (Regional Market Rates) for the subsidized child care they provide in their communities.

Funding for our Public Health Care System

2015 HealthcareIn 2015, we helped secure up to $7.2 billion over 5 years for our public health systems through the renewal of the “1115 Waiver” program. This funding will help our public health workers transform our public hospitals into systems of first choice and develop innovative programs that provide holistic care and reduce health care disparities for the most vulnerable in our communities.

“This is a victory not only for SEIU 521 members in our health and hospital systems, but also for the most vulnerable in our community.”
-Enid Donato and Yvette Carreon, Natividad Medical Center

In October, The Kern Hospital Authority Bill (AB 1350) was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown. As a union, we helped draft legislation that established Kern Medical Center as a stand-alone entity so staff can provide better care for patients in their community.

Protecting our Public Libraries

2015 LibrairiesThis year, Kern County prevailed against continued threats of privatizing county libraries.

While the option is still on the table, county Supervisors backed off their hard public stance towards privatization.

We continue to fight and win these legal and political victories thanks to member contributions to our Committee on Political Education (COPE).

Higher Wages through Fight For 15 and Local Actions

2015 FF15SEIU 521 members showed solidarity with underpaid workers in the Fight For 15 national actions in Fresno, Salinas, San Jose and Oakland on April 15 and November 10.

“Fight for $15 is about lifting the wage floor and building a better future for everyone. We won’t stop until every hard working person is able to make enough to pay the bills and get the respect everyone deserves on the job.”
– Elba Arciniega, SEIU 521 member and Patient Business Services Clerk at Valley Medical Center

In Santa Clara County, we helped pass a comprehensive living wage in August that set an hourly wage of $19.06 for public employees with increases tied to cost of living, plus earned sick days and incentives for health and retirement coverage. It is the first living wage ordinance in the country to include fair work week provisions that protect workers from unpredictable work schedules which is a major cause of income instability and prevents workers from planning child care, getting a second job, or going to school.

Community Building for Immigrant Rights

2015 CIRIn May, we formed the Committee on Comprehensive Immigration Reform to help undocumented workers to come out of the shadows, to stop the theft of their wages, the abuse of their labor, and other degradation they experience as a result of their lack of a legal immigration status.

“I work with children whose parents are ripped from them and deported. It’s wrong. If parents can be with their kids, it makes a huge difference in that child’s life.”
-Leticia Hernandez, Child Support Officer for Kern County

Partnering with dozens of community groups, SEIU 521 hosted a series of free resource forums on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and pending Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) programs. These programs could offer temporary relief from deportation for undocumented immigrants so families can stay together in the U.S.

The Future of Labor

2015 COPWe also formed Children Over Politics of SEIU Local 521, a youth group for the next generation of activists fighting for civic engagement, economic equality, racial justice, and immigration reform.

We saw in 2015 that when workers stand and fight together, we win. As we face even greater challenges in the year ahead, we have to be even stronger.

The higher our membership, the more power we have at the bargaining table to win good contracts and help lift up our communities.
Join today as a full member of SEIU Local 521:

Our victories are in large part thanks to our Committee on Political Education (COPE). COPE is an investment for our future and our voice in politics. Contributing to SEIU’s Committee on Political Education allows individual workers to band together to elect good leaders for city, county, state, and federal offices and to advocate for bills, funding, and laws that protect our working families and our communities.
Sign up today to Unite, Fight, Win Together:

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

SEIU Local 521

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