Our bargaining team has met with the County and the mediator on November 5, 6, 12, 13, 14, 18, 19, and 20th. The next mediation date is scheduled for November 22nd.
By the rules of the agreement what happens in these negotiations will be kept confidential – until there is a tentative agreement for our members to discuss and vote on – or until the talks break down. The mediator cannot impose a settlement but is there to assist in facilitating discussions.
Click here for a list of questions and answers about the agreement:
While we are in mediation we will continue taking action around issues at our workplaces to make the County a better place to live and work. If you would like to get involved, get in touch with your Steward, Contract Action Team (CAT) or Strike Captain at your worksite.
We Demanded a Say in the RAIC Transition Plan, and the Board Agreed!
For years we have raised concerns regarding the safety and well-being of children and our staff at the Receiving Assessment and Intake Center (RAIC). Together with community leaders, our co-workers turned out at the board of supervisors’ meeting on November 19 to speak about the RAIC transition plan and to present our recommendations:
- Avoid the moratorium on the RAIC without a long-term plan
- Invite community members to assist in developing a plan
- Increase support for foster parents
- Provide adequate staffing
- Provide adequate training and procedures
- Provide appropriate facilities and programs
- No outsourcing or privatization of services
“It is important that the county have a plan in place if a moratorium is placed on the RAIC. There will always be emergency situations that require a child to be placed into protective custody and removed from their caregivers due to abuse or neglect, said Andrée Patrón, Social Worker Supervisor. “This can happen anytime of the day or night. Santa Clara County SSA has a mission to keep children safe. As one of two overnight supervisors that oversees the child abuse hotline and emergency response, it is critical that social workers can confidently bring a child to a receiving center that is safer than the place in which they were removed.”
We want to make sure that the County includes our staff, foster parents, and our partner organizations in the process. Supervisor Cortese corrected that he is not requesting a moratorium on the RAIC, but rather a moratorium on the use of the RAIC as a shelter while the County Administration looks for short-term and long-term solutions. Supervisor Chavez requested that our staff, foster parents, and partner organizations continue to be involved in the process. Supervisor Ellenberg reiterated her request that there should be better communication and training for our front-line staff.
New Children’s Budget, and Planned $3 Million Investment
Supervisors Susan Ellenberg and Cindy Chavez announced the first separate Children’s budget on November 18, with a $3 million planned investment in early child care, including on-site child care facilities for county staff.
“We applaud the efforts of Supervisors Susan Ellenberg and Cindy Chavez in developing a transparent and separate budget to acknowledge the priorities and vital needs of children across Santa Clara County. Our union is made up of thousands of working parents here in the County, and we take tremendous pride in leading the efforts to call for investment in children and children’s services. Throughout our ongoing contract negotiations and unfair labor practice strike, our focus has always been the health and safety of children and families. We look forward to working with the County and Board of Supervisors in whatever means necessary to ensure they are a priority.”
– Janet Diaz, SEIU 521 Santa Clara County Chapter President
CalWORKs Achievement Awards Ceremony
A select few outstanding CalWORKs participants from each district who took significant steps in reaching self-sufficiency were honored with an achievement award at the board of supervisors’ meeting on November 19. The work of our co-workers was also recognized during the CalWORKs achievement awards ceremony by county supervisors.
“As a CalWORKs Employment Counselor working with families living in the County, I hear directly from my clients’ stories of the many struggles they face. I help them find their path to self-sufficiency. It’s eye-opening to get a glimpse of how much suffering there is in our community with the ever-increasing inequities in one of the richest counties and nations on earth.”
– Joseph Kwan, CalWORKs Employment Counselor
(Second row, first from the right in the photo)
Nov. 6 & 7 – Media Highlights Issues at the RAIC & Acquired Hospitals
Our strike, press conferences, and all other actions we took together for the past 6 months have led to the media covering safety issues at the RAIC, as well as the quality of patient care at the acquired hospitals – O’Connor Hospital, St. Louise Regional Hospital and De Paul Center.
“Employees said they’ve only seen changes at the receiving center in the past month, attributing that to the publicity generated by an employees’ strike in October.” Read the Mercury News article.
Nov 4. Mediation Dates Selected
On Nov. 1, we announced that our bargaining team agreed to enter voluntary mediation with the County and mutually chose the experienced mediator Joel Schaffer. We are glad to announce that we have agreed to the following mediation dates: November 5, 6, 12, 13, 14, 18, 19, 20, and 22nd.
Nov. 1 – Santa Clara County and SEIU Local 521 Agree to Enter Voluntary Mediation
As part of the agreement, SEIU Local 521 suspended voting on the County’s “Last, Best, and Final Offer” (“LBFO”), as well as suspended all work stoppages. The County will no longer be constrained by its “Last, Best, and Final Offer” during mediation. Additionally, the County has agreed to rescind its unilateral change to the sick, paid time off, and vacation leave policy.
“Our bargaining team believes that the Board of Supervisors and County would not have made this move if they didn’t want to reach a fair settlement. We are committed to working towards reaching a successful resolution during this mediation. If we can’t reach a fair settlement, we can and will exercise all our legal rights including our right to strike and to complete our vote on the County’s ‘LBFO,’ and publicizing the vote results,” said Janet Diaz, Santa Clara County Chapter President
For more details:
Oct. 25 – Press Conference at O’Connor Hospital
We announced that we are ready to strike over unfair labor practices that threaten patient care.
This time thousands of employees across the County are committed to striking to demand that the County of Santa Clara immediately stops committing Unfair Labor Practices (ULPs) that threaten patient care at O’Connor Hospital, St. Louise Regional Hospital, and De Paul Urgent Care Center.
When the County of Santa Clara acquired O’Connor and St. Louise Hospitals, management promised continuing employment – and the stability of patient care that would bring. Now the County is making more promises but refuses to negotiate in good faith with SEIU 521 union members over those promises and to make them enforceable. The County’s illegal and unilateral changes in job requirements and working conditions have all contributed to a deteriorating situation for hospital workers that puts the health of underserved patients at risk.
Oct. 22 – WIN – The San Jose Family Resource Center move has been postponed pending further review for location options or potential stay by the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.
In another win, the Receiving, Assessment and Intake Center (RAIC) is now separating children based on needs, a safety concern we had raised with the County for years.
We will continue to shed light on the real obstacles facing children, seniors, and families across our County.
It’s critical that we have your updated contact information including the authorization to call and text you – make sure you fill out this form: http://bit.ly/SCCoStrikeReadyUpdates
Oct. 19 – Library workers joined our ULP strike
Our unfair labor practices (ULP) strike against the County of Santa Clara for its reorganization of the Department of Family and Children’s Services without bargaining with its employees continued on Saturday, October 19.
Our co-workers at libraries in Gilroy, Morgan Hill, Campbell, Cupertino, Los Altos, Milpitas and Saratoga participated in our ULP strike, resulting in their closure for the day.
We highlighted the staffing shortage and lack of resources to serve our residents. We need long-term solutions, not band-aids to address and fix these issues, such as giving “extra help” employees full-time opportunities to support the increased workloads.
Santa Clara County Employees work across the County providing health care throughout the hospital and clinics of the Valley Medical Center. We maintain county roads, provide mental health services in the community and in our county jails. We protect children and elders from abuse and neglect and we make sure eligible residents get the benefits they are entitled to. We work in law enforcement, our parks, and in child support, libraries, and much more.
For the first time in nearly 40 years, Santa Clara County workers are striking against Santa Clara County for its Unfair Labor Practices (ULP) because there is a public service crisis impacting residents and the workers who provide then. The Board of Supervisors and County Executives have caused this strike by breaking the labor law. Unfair Labor Practices hurt our public service workers and the vulnerable communities we serve.
Currently, we are on a ULP strike of restructuring the way work is done in the Department of Family and Children’s Services without bargaining with the employees who do the work. The county is actively working to shut down the San Jose Family Resource Center and making many other changes that will hurt our community and the front-line employees who have dedicated their lives to public service. Shutting down the Family Resource Center is just one example of how the county has shown that it does not care about the needs of our community and its employees. Instead of breaking the law, the county should be bargaining in good faith with our union for a contract that would address the serious issues faced by front-line employees – and the resulting high number of turnover and vacancies.
Oct. 17 – Largest Worksites at VMC and O’Connor Join Our ULP Strike on Day 9
Hospital workers from Valley Medical Center and O’Connor are joining the picket-lines in what is expected to be the largest group of workers on strike to date. Workers on strike include Emergency Room Technicians, Transportation, Janitors, Licensed Vocational Nurses, Health Services Reps, Medical Unit Clerks, MRI Techs, Mental Health Workers, Eligibility Workers, Food Service Workers among many others.
“It is disappointing that the County has decided to continue to blatantly disregard the needs of the patients we serve every day at Valley Medical Center,” said Linda Quach, MRI – Technologist, Valley Medical Center. “We are simply asking for accountability on behalf of the County to address the widespread vacancies and their inability to properly recruit and retain the appropriate staffing. Our residents do not deserve subpar services especially when it comes to their healthcare and well-being. The dedicated workers of our County do not deserve to be blamed or disrespected for deciding to strike because of the inefficiencies and mismanagement on behalf of the County.”
Oct. 16 – Despite County’s Last, Best and Final Offer, Workers’ Back On The Strike Line For Day 8
Elmwood Jail and Main Jail, Crime Lab Workers, Environmental Health Services, Juvenile Hall and More Join Strike Line
Workers on strike include the following departments: Registrar of Voters, Consumer Protection, Department of Environmental Health, Department of Tax and Collections, IT Support, Probation Department, Crime Lab, Department of Corrections, Custody Health Services, Behavioral Health Services and parts of Valley Medical Center among others.
Oct. 15 – Our Bargaining Team’s Response to County’s Last, Best and Final Offer
Management made their “Last, Best and Final Offer” on Oct. 15.
Here is the statement from Janet Diaz, Patient Business Service Clerk at Valley Medical Center and Santa Clara County Chapter President in response to the County’s last, best and final offer:
“It is unfortunate that Jeff Smith and the Board of Supervisors has put us in a position that continues to compromise our community’s health and safety and their ability to access services. The County’s proposed Last, Best and Final Offer is not by any means a tentative agreement on behalf of the workers of Santa Clara County represented by SEIU Local 521. Instead, it is an attempt to force its employees to accept the same proposal put forth months ago. Their offer does nothing to address the 1,500 plus vacancies across the County impacting 9-1-1 Dispatchers, Social Workers, Healthcare providers and the thousands of dedicated County employees who ensure residents are protected, healthy, and safe. This offer is disingenuous to the process of good faith negotiations – for months we have asked the County to discuss with us what an agreement would look like and they continuously said they were not ready nor interested. Our community deserved more today, and they should have been ready to try to engage in a conversation that would have reached an agreement. This is a clear message from the County that the interests of the community are not a priority. Our Santa Clara County bargaining team is discussing the next steps and our recommendation to our membership.”
-Janet Diaz, Santa Clara County Chapter President
Our Santa Clara County bargaining team is recommending to vote no on the County’s last, best and final offer.
For more details log in to MemberLink at members.seiu521.org
Our Santa Clara County Chapter Bargaining Committee announced on Oct. 11 during a live press conference that it will present a comprehensive proposal to the County of Santa Clara that addresses the widespread vacancies, turnover and retention challenges impacting our workers’ ability to do our job to support the needs of residents.
Our community-based proposal will be presented at the request of the Board of Supervisors ahead of a special closed session scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 12. Our strike activities were postponed on the evening of Oct. 9 following the local emergency announced by the County regarding the PG&E’s PSP. Our members will be ready to resume our unfair labor practice strike at a moment’s notice.
We were incredibly honored to have been joined today by our SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry as she outlined why our fight for our community is the reason we must ensure we have unions for all.
Oct. 9 & 10 – Strike Activities Postponed Following State of Emergency Regarding PG&E’s PSPS
Due to the official local emergency announced on Oct. 9 by the County of Santa Clara in response to the PG&E’s Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS), the SEIU 521 Santa Clara County bargaining committee has called off all strike activities as of Wednesday evening until further notice. This doesn’t mean that our strike has ended; it’s only temporarily suspended until further notice. The local emergency has been declared by the County after PG&E announced a Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) due to high fire danger.
Strike Day 7 – Oct. 9 – Public Health Nurses, Clinic Workers, Workers at District Attorney’s Office, Courts & County Administration & Many Others Walk Out to Join Our Strike Line
Oct. 9 marks one week since our Santa Clara County workers walked off the job in protest of an unfair labor practice charge against the County for the reorganization of the Department of Family and Children’s Service without bargaining with the workers who do the work.
“Public health is essential to protecting and keeping our Santa Clara County community safe,” said Marilyn Mara, Public Health Nurse, and Negotiator. “We have one of the highest rates of Tuberculosis in the state, and the fact that we continue to experience retention and recruitment obstacles along with staffing shortage is putting the health of our residents at risk. When we are staffed and funded properly, our preventative work reduces hospitalizations – which not only saves taxpayers’ money but saves lives.”
Public health and clinic workers across multiple Valley Health Centers along with administrative staff within Planning and Development, Assessor’s office, the Courts, the District Attorney’s office and more will join fellow strikers who have already been on the picket lines: Social Services, Parks, 9-1-1 dispatchers, roads and maintenance, social workers, child support, public defenders, mental and behavioral health, among many others.
“Our unfair labor practices strike has gotten stronger every day,” said Mullissa Willette, Exemption Investigator and Vice President of SEIU Local 521. “When the County decided to break the labor law by unilaterally reorganizing the Department of Family and Children’s Services without bargaining with our members, we filed this unfair labor practice charge on behalf of the 12,000 workers who make this County work every day. Throughout our unfair labor practices strike, our community has become aware of the wide-spread deficiencies in resources impacting our ability to ensure our residents are both healthy and safe and have the means to obtain the services they depend on – this fight is about the future of our communities.”
MEDIA COVERAGE: CBS NEWS
Strike Day 6 – Oct. 8
Workers from 9 sites walked off the job on day 6 of our ongoing unfair labor practice strike against Santa Clara County in response to the County’s reorganization of the Department of Families and Children’s Services without bargaining with the workers who do the work. We then marched on the streets and rallied together at 70 W. Hedding outside of the Board Chambers. Our strikes on Tuesday caused a closure of the county’s In-home Supportive Services program office at 353 W. Julian St.
MEDIA COVERAGE: Palo Alto Online
Strike Day 5 – Oct. 7
On Monday, Oct. 7, workers from 7 sites within the Social Services Agency are walking off the job on day 5 of our ongoing unfair labor practice strike against Santa Clara County in response to the County’s reorganization of the Department of Families and Children’s Services without bargaining with the workers who do the work.
“We are proud to join the thousands of County workers who were on the line last week in protest of the County’s unfair labor practices that hurt our ability to reach an agreement,” said Griselda Galindo, Eligibility Worker III within the Social Services Agency. “Our residents should know that there is a widespread staffing crisis across our County departments impacting our ability to provide adequate service – our workloads are unattainable and we cannot hire and retain staff. We have dedicated our lives to service and know firsthand the needs of our residents, we will continue to bring to light the obstacles in our workplaces keeping us from doing our jobs.”
Strike Day 4 – Oct. 5
Employees from the County Communications Department that provide 911 services were on strike on Saturday, Oct. 5, excluding essential workers: “We’re out here to protest the unfair labor practice, but county residents need to know that there is a staffing crisis here at the 911 operation because they can’t hire and retain enough qualified workers,” says Michelle Bustamante Nunez, 911 Dispatcher.
911 dispatch employees joined forces with park workers on strike on Saturday as well and gathered together at the Martial Cottle Park to share our concerns with Fall Festival attendees. “We attend these festivals and love bringing our families to celebrate what’s great about our public parks,” said Daniel McCulluch, Senior Park Maintenance Worker and Union Negotiator. “At the same time, we also think it’s important that our community and County leaders are aware of the challenges facing those who make these types of events possible. We’re looking forward to meeting our neighbors and gaining their support through welcoming conversations.”
Strike Day 3 – Oct. 4
Here is our response to Santa Clara County’s ULP Over Unfair Labor Practice Strike: “We do not believe that the county’s charge has merit,” said Chris Libera, SEIU 521 Member, Santa Clara County Community Worker and Strike Leader. “The fact that they would file a baseless charge against their own employees is another indication of their inability to deal with their employees’ legal strike action against the county’s unfair labor practices.”
Santa Clara County workers are officially on strike over unfair labor practices at the East Valley Health Clinic and the Gilroy Health Clinic – but the impact of our strike is much much larger. From the SSA offices on Senter Road to the Valley Medical Center’s main campus, management has canceled thousands of appointments and procedures that were scheduled for today because they thought we might be on strike. And the Gilroy health clinic is now shut down.
DAY 3 – EAST VALLEY is on fire! @SCCgov: we need long-term solutions to the needs of our patients, no more bandaids. It’s our sacrifice for the health of OUR community. #ProtectSantaClara #ULPStrike pic.twitter.com/HOIbpRAB01
— SEIU Local 521 (@SEIU521) October 4, 2019
Strike Day 2 – Oct. 3
Our strike continued today, on Thursday, October 3rd. Multiple facilities and clinics were completely shut down by us – the workers. We love our patients and know that they deserve the best care. CEO Jeff Smith doesn’t understand the needs of the patients we take care of daily, WE DO.
Congressman Ro Khanna joined our picket line today:
Strike Day 1 – Oct. 2
Day one of our strike started on Wednesday, October 2nd. For the first time in 40 years, we are going on an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) strike to protect services for children, low-income families, and seniors in our community.
— SEIU Local 521 (@SEIU521) October 2, 2019
“Why We Are Striking” Press Conference on Sept. 26
Over 600 Santa Clara County rallied together at 70 West Hedding from all across the county on September 26 to show that we are united and ready to strike when our bargaining team makes the call. We held a press conference and took our message straight to the office of CEO Jeff Smith. We made it clear that we are going on strike because the County has continuously broken the labor law. We called CEO Jeff Smith out for refusing to bargain in the best interest of our co-workers, our families, and the residents we serve.
We are social workers, eligibility workers, healthcare workers, clerical and blue-collar staff, and more. We work in our County’s hospitals, jails, maintenance yards, streets, offices, in the homes of our most vulnerable residents, and beyond. We know firsthand how people in our community are struggling.
We are #StrikeReady because the future of our community is on the line. Right now in the County of Santa Clara, California — the epicenter of innovation — too many children lack decent care; seniors are struggling; and services fall short. It’s up to the Board of Supervisors to address these vital needs.
What’s next? Now, we are preparing for a strike. Make sure your information is up-to-date by filling out this form.
Our elected bargaining team will contact your strike captain and Contract Action Team member when we go on strike.
Latest update – Civil Disobedience – September 19
Civil Disobedience – September 19
- NBC News – County workers poised to strike – September 10, 2019
- San Jose Spotlight – South Bay labor leaders sanction strike of thousands of Santa Clara County employees – September 10, 2019
- The Mercury News – Santa Clara County workers vote to authorize strike – August 24, 2019
Since April 2019, Santa Clara County management has refused to deal fairly with our 11,000 County workers. On August 23, members counted thousands of ballots where our bargaining team was authorized to call a strike if we do not see any significant movement from the County.
On September 9, the South Bay Labor Council made up of 101 unions and more than 100,000 union members approved our strike sanction authorization UNANIMOUSLY. We will not be alone in our fight to protect the vital needs of our community.
On September 12, our Contract Action Team prepared for a strike. For more information, go to MemberLink: members.seiu521.org.