From City News Service of Southern California:
SAN DIEGO — The Board of Supervisors Tuesday tentatively approved an ordinance that would mean better salaries for 20 types of positions within county government.
If supervisors formally approve the ordinance on Oct. 15 on second reading, the county will spend $2 million on pay adjustments affecting positions such as department clerks, food service workers, psychiatric nurses and helicopter mechanics.
People sitting in the gallery, including members of the Service Employees International Union, applauded after the compensation review measure passed 4-0 on first reading.
Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said the county needs to perform a system- wide equity study.
“We want to make sure we get and keep the best folks,” he added.
David Garcias, SEIU Local 221 president, said the board’s decision was long overdue, but a full classification study is needed for all workers.
Garcias added that pay increases help with recruitment, retention and employee morale.
“We acknowledge this is a step forward, but other positions are being left behind again,” he said. “This is not fair to our employees and it’s not fair to taxpayers.”
At the Board of Supervisors on Sept. 24, members showed solidarity with their coworkers who the County is proposing compensation increases for, but said the County must do more. You and your fellow SEIU Local 221 members made these increases possible with years of work demanding a compensation study and equity increases for all workers. This is an admission by County executives that they don’t pay enough to recruit and retain staff, but it doesn’t go far enough.
“We are pleased that the Board of Supervisors took the first steps today toward approval of compensation increases for some critical jobs, including Psych Nurses, Senior Clinical Psychologists and Mental Health Clinicians,” said SEIU Local 221 President David Garcias. “However, there is more work to do to address underfunding of staffing and services.”
Your union is continuing to demand equity increases for all County employees, lifting up and recognizing the value and importance of the services employees bring to our communities every day.
Supervisors seemed responsive to the members testimony, which included a single mother and County employee who signs the public up for benefits but is also eligible for Medi-Cal.
“I agree with Supervisor Fletcher that we not only want to have a pay scale that attracts but that retains,” Supervisor Dianne Jacob said.
By continuing to underpay employees, the County is sending a message that work we do and those we serve are not a priority. That is why your union is continuing to demand equity increases for all County employees, lifting up and recognizing the value and importance of the services employees bring to the County and our communities every single day.
The resolutions to be voted on at the General Membership Meeting are now ready for review. In total, two resolutions were submitted. They will be submitted for a vote of all members in attendance at the General Membership Meeting.
In early September, the County gave into pressures from our union and have offered equity increases up to 10% to certain classifications. This win was only made possible due to years of SEIU members demanding a compensation study and fair equity increases for all workers. The County executives are finally admitting that they don’t pay enough to recruit and retain staff, but they are still failing to address the causes of these problems.
By continuing to underpay employees, the County is sending a message that work we do and those we serve are not a priority. That is why our union is continuing to demand equity increases for all County employees, lifting up and recognizing the value and importance of the services employees bring to the County and our communities every single day.
Proposed equity increases will be for the following:
This is an important step forward, but it’s only the beginning. Our union is committed to bringing equity across our County. Join us and sign our petition to send the message to the County, that all of us deserve to be paid for award winning work to serve our communities that make San Diego County a great place to live and work.
We continue to call upon the County of San Diego to undertake a comprehensive compensation study and bring all of San Diego County employee wages up to a competitive level through equity. Make your voice heard and sign our petition!
As Labor Day turns 125, we should reflect on what working families can do together – including creating a national holiday to honor the hard work of ordinary people. We are at a turning point in our nation, union approval is nearing a 50 year high. Almost half of all nonunion members say they would join a union if they could. People are realizing that many of the problems that we are now facing, including income inequality and the U.S. pay gap for women and black and brown workers, are made worse by declining union membership.
In San Diego County, our work is paying off. We won a San Diego County budget that expands staff by 441 and increases investment in mental health, public health and child welfare. We did this as part of a coalition of community groups called the Invest in San Diego Families coalition, which is continuing its work to push the County to add staffing and set reasonable caseloads.
Your union has been working for 10 years to create a County that works for everyone. Starting in 2010 you won term limits for Supervisors, which is now paying off with more responsive Supervisors. You won Measure D in 2018 – now important County positions, including Supervisor, are decided in November when more people vote. You elected Nathan Fletcher in 2018 – the first voice for working people on the Board of Supervisors. Nationally, we will work to support Unions For All, which will make it easier to organize on the job, lifting up our communities. All of these efforts to fight for working families, will require Member Political Organizer volunteers and COPE contributions.
You won a LiveWell bus – to increase community outreach and move toward more staffing. You won a temporary asylum shelter to support all families and protect the health of all San Diego County residents. You defeated a Health and Human Services jeans ban that would have made it harder to do our jobs and alienated those that we serve.
It is all leading up to the next contract negotiations, when we can push for more, including adequate staffing to ensure better services and competitive salaries and retirement to retain experienced public servants. In 2020 we will work to elect champions for working people on the Board of Supervisors in Districts 1, 2 and 3. A majority of Supervisors who are support working families would be more likely to approve an equity study and bring San Diego wages up to other Counties’ level. We also need to work to create a membership supermajority, which will give us more power in negotiations with management.
This work is all worth it because of the difference it makes in our days, in our lives, in our communities. Elva Garcia, a five-year employee of San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency, wrote about her transformation from a nonmember to a union steward that, “was driven by the realization that leadership at my office had to evolve. I knew more people like me had to step up, otherwise nothing was going to change. By working together with my fellow stewards and increasing participation in our union, we created a positive working relationship with our management team. Now, managers are receptive to input and promptly resolve issues. Going to the office is enjoyable again.”
SEIU Local 221 President
PS – Hear SEIU Local 221 members reflect on Labor Day here, here, and here. Hear members describe what being an SEIU Local 221 member means by clicking here.
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