Together We Rise Newsletter – October 2017

Together We Rise

A Message from Gwyn Harshaw, SEIU 521 President

Gwyn HarshawOn Sept. 5, the Trump Administration announced that it would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in six months. They left the door open for Congress to enact legislation allowing DREAMers to stay and gain full citizenship. 200,000 Californians and 800,000 mothers, fathers, children, and young adults across the country are in danger of losing their immigration status if Congress refuses to pass a bipartisan bill.
Ending DACA without a replacement is irresponsible and only feeds into the troubling rise of racism in this country.

It is not just our labor movement that stands with DREAMers. From tech giants like Microsoft, Google, and Facebook to companies like Disney, Goldman Sachs, and the U.S Chamber of Commerce, America’s business community agrees that the only reasonable path forward leads to citizenship. If America is a shining city on a hill, we cannot dim our light to those who are trying to fulfill our promise.

DREAMers are our friends and neighbors. They are SEIU Local 521 members working for cities and counties, schools, and hospitals saving lives and delivering quality public services to our communities. We will organize and mobilize to resist the massive deportation of our friends and neighbors. We will call, write, fax and email. We will resist online, in the streets, and at the ballot box. This is not the America we worked so hard to build. We will stand together and we will fight.

Growing the Labor Movement in Kern County

Kern County ChapterMembers in Kern County have been joining up to get a good contract. Contracts reflect the strength of the bargaining unit at the time of settlement and our power is growing. After 10 years with no additional investment from the county, we’re ready to fight and lift our families up.

Our bargaining has escalated from Purple Up Days at the workplace to lobby visits and a Walk-A-Day campaign where a county supervisor rode along with a CPS worker as she visited homes. Members in Kern County know that unless they stand together, the county will continue to shortchange our community and make cuts to vital public services.

Hundreds of members and community supporters packed a budget hearing at the county on Aug. 28 and hundreds more came out to our Labor Day march that filled the streets and saturated the news countywide. SEIU members are recruiting their co-workers to sign up for membership and COPE and county supervisors are noticing.

As our membership grows, our bargaining position gets even stronger and we will continue to stay united and fight for our community.We continue to make progress, but the main point of recovery and investment in the workforce and the community is still a major debate at the table.

Taking Back Labor Day

Community activists, union members, and workers across the country came together on Labor Day 2017 for a national day of action to say “No” to a rigged economy and “Yes” to workers’ rights.

Workers took a stand on Sept. 4 to defend our right to unionize and fight for a better future. From Watsonville to Bakersfield, and from Fresno to San Jose, members of SEIU Local 521 and allies called on elected leaders and corporations to stand with working people, to champion our fight to raise wages, and support our right to join unions so that everyday Americans have a fighting chance of getting ahead in our economy.

Lorena Wright, a Family Child Care Provider in San Jose, explained: “As the cost of living continues to skyrocket, child care providers like me are barely making it by. We care for other people’s children, but struggle to afford healthcare, retirement or provide the basic necessities for our own children.”

Learn more at

Labor Day

Legislative Success

After a tremendous amount of work by members, leaders, and political staff, SEIU has put 19 bills on Governor Brown’s desk this year. The Governor now has until Sept. 30 to sign, veto, or take no action on all bills sent to him by the Legislature. By taking no action, the Governor allows bills to become law without his signature.

We need to make some noise to help some of the bills which are most important to 521 become law:

  • AB 621 – Helps classified school employees make it through the unpaid summers
  • AB 450 – Worksite raid requirements and protections
  • SB 54 – Law enforcement & public facilities protections for immigrants

Other priority bills will be two-year bills, including AB 1250, our county contracting transparency and accountability bill and SB 10, the bail reform bill which saves taxpayer money and keeps families together. Check out our legislative round-up blog for the latest news on these and other bills.

Get more involved in our legislative work by joining the COPE Committee.
Learn more at

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