Two years ago, SEIU 521 members successfully pushed Santa Clara County to pass the most comprehensive living wage in the country. This coming year, our work continues. That is because the county’s 2014 Living Wage Ordinance and Policy, which cover for-profit contractors that do business with the county, do not cover the nonprofit sector, in which many SEIU members work.
This week, Supervisor Cindy Chavez convened the first of two public forums to gather community input as the county considers extending the living wage policy to cover nonprofits contracted with the county where SEIU members work in behavioral, primary and specialty health care and social services helping some of the most vulnerable clients in the county.
Speaking at the forum on Monday were SEIU 521 members Lisa Wilson, of Momentum for Mental Health, Don Phillips, who works for the county library in Milpitas, and SEIU Chief Elected Officer Kristy Sermersheim.
It is very clear than when workers have real input in the decision-making process that impacts their work and the services they provide, the result is an increase in overall performance and quality of service to clients. After all, frontline workers are the ones with daily contact with those benefiting from the services. It’s just smart to include workers’ voices when decisions are being made that affect their and their clients’ lives.
“We can do better and the proposed living wage policy for nonprofits is a critical step in improving the lives of workers and improving the quality of care provided by community based organizations that contract with the county.”
– Lisa Wilson, Momentum for Mental Health Worker and SEIU 521 Member
Our goal is for a policy that:
- Improves the lives and economic security of working families.
- Ensures workers have a true voice on the job.
- Increases the quality of critical services that safety-net workers provide residents.
The county is expected to release a draft Nonprofit Living Wage policy for review in January 2017. There will be a two-month comment period and a second public hearing in February 2017. The draft policy will then undergo additional revisions before being heard by the Board of Supervisors’ Finance and Government Operations Committee in May 2017. Final adoption by the Board of Supervisors is expected in Summer 2017, with implementation expected July 1, 2018.
Working with Working Partnerships, there will be opportunities for SEIU members to make sure the final ordinance continues lifting up everyone in our community. Stay tuned for future updates and how you can be involved!