SEIU members speaking out at the Aug. 25 San Diego County Budget Hearing continued voicing our demands for equity, an increased investment in public health and proper staffing that ends contracting out and takes layoffs off the table. In the past year, members led multiple online actions, vehicle caravans, spoke out to the media and at board meetings. On Aug. 24, it all culminated with a vigil to honor fallen front-line workers during the COVID19 pandemic, including San Diego County Social Worker Ronda Felder, and demand that the County protect all workers.
These actions, along with emails and testimony led to important victories in the budget, including:
- Funding for an equity study, which is the first step to finally raise compensation to be competitive with other counties and retain experienced workers, which will improve services
- We demanded and received staffing to address shortages for Pharmacists, Communicable Disease Investigators, Microbiologists and Alcohol and Drug Counselors
- SEIU and our partners in the Invest in San Diego Families coalition successfully advocated for nearly $40 million in budget changes, including $24 million for rental assistance, $1 million for landlord and tenant counseling, $5.4 million for mental health and substance misuse care coordination services, $2.5 million for translation, $2 million for low-income Internet access and much more.
Despite these wins, ultimately this budget does not do enough to meet this historic moment. The way forward is clear. We must increase pressure to truly invest in the services that the communities we serve deserve, and that means investing in us, the front-line employees who provide critical services. We must keep fighting to win a strong contract in 2021 and ’22.