December 2020

A new year: new challenges and new hope

A new year brings new hope, but the work is not done.

As we move forward, we remember those we have lost and the sacrifices we all continue to make. Arrogant managers and executives called us essential. We must make sure that this was not empty political theater.

We hope the new year reverses some of the pandemic’s impacts on us, our families, our communities and our workplaces. But even if this happens quickly, we must resolve to stand together with one voice and tell our employers: Respect Us. Protect Us. Pay Us.

Black, Brown, Asian Pacific Islander, Indigenous and White working families must remind them that, this year frontline workers led the way. It was not overpaid, self-important managers doing the vital work to keep our region and our world functioning.

This year we will negotiate new contracts and prepare for new fights. We will have to remind leaders about hazard pay and equity adjustments they promised, and how hard we had to fight for the basic protections we need to protect ourselves and our families while doing our jobs, including PPE and OSHA safeguards.

I have no doubt that we will meet and overcome these and many unforeseen challenges. Even in the final weeks of 2020, we stood together on the frontlines and forced the San Diego Sheriff’s Department to abandon its reckless and shortsighted outsourcing plan. Now we must resolve to continue the fight to force the Sheriff to create a restorative model of care under Health and Human Services. Our union family’s defeat of the outsourcing plan is a victory for all of us and better supports our communities, allows us to protect and improve the vital services we provide and defeat future ill-considered outsourcing schemes.

The struggles of the past year prove that we are a resilient union. As we move forward, we will not forget what we endured, and we will build on the strength and leadership we showed to build better communities, better jobs and a better world.

Have a safe new year.

In Solidarity,

David Garcias
SEIU Local 221 President

P.S. – Sign up a nonunion member, to grow our power and show management we are standing strong. You can sign a membership card online by following this link.

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Our advocacy forces Sheriff to abandon outsourcing plan

After months of media coverage, caravans, petitions, calls and socially distanced protests, our advocacy has forced the Sheriff to abandon the reckless plan to outsource detention staff. The members on the frontlines in the Sheriff’s Department have shown us how to build real union power. This successful campaign, involving thousands of union members taking collective action, reminds us that when we fight, we win.

We will need this same energy, member-leadership and participation next year as we start contract negotiations. When Black, Brown, Asian American Pacific Islander and White workers unite it shows we are truly stronger together. While stopping this process prevents additional threats to lives and public health, the fight is not over.
We are calling on the Sheriff to listen to his constituents and begin to work collaboratively with other departments to create a restorative model of care under Health and Human Services.

The COVID-19 pandemic makes threats like these more dangerous than ever. The only way to stop them is to grow union membership. Sign up a nonunion member, to grow our power and show management we are standing strong. You can sign a membership card online by following this link.

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Union heroes are all around – 2020 revealed them to us

Thanks to all of you, my union family. Wishing you the very best holiday season in these challenging times.

All our contributions are important, whether we are wearing a mask, having socially distanced celebrations or sacrificing and directly helping those who are sick or in need.

The COVID-19 pandemic, racial injustice, inequality and climate change combined to challenge us this year in ways that we have never seen before. It wasn’t self-important managers and executives that answered that challenge. It was us. Some of us are on the frontlines and in healthcare settings. Some of us are working in new jobs as governments and organizations took extraordinary measures to face these crises. Some of us volunteered to ensure accessible, peaceful and democratic elections. Some of us are doing little-seen but important work to make sure the vital services that help the neediest residents continue.

This year has challenged us in many ways and is still challenging us. It undoubtedly has changed everyone’s thinking about what we value, about connections to family and friends, about the roles we play at work, at home, in our communities. The most valuable gifts I received this year are that change in perspective and the love shown by working people who have continued to do their jobs, who have sacrificed and continue to sacrifice.

Together we have worked to honor that sacrifice and make our work as safe as possible. We have won new PPE and OSHA protections and an equity study. We have fought for hazard pay and fought against short-sighted outsourcing plans. After more than a decade of work, we have gained more powerful allies, including Supervisors Elect Terra Lawson-Remer and Nora Vargas, who will join Nathan Fletcher as a pro-working family majority on the San Diego Board of Supervisors.

We remember those we have lost and the sacrifices made by so many. We cannot return to the blind spots of the previous years, but must lead and follow those who do unglamourous jobs with courage and leadership, who speak out and guide us to a better, more just, more equitable, more inclusive future.

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In Solidarity,

David Garcias
SEIU Local 221 President

P.S. – Sign up a nonunion member, to grow our power and show management we are standing strong. You can sign a membership card online by following this link.

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Members win new Cal/OSHA regulations to combat COVID-19 spread

We are holding employers accountable and fighting to improve health and safety. Through our coalition work with occupational health, community groups, other labor unions and environmental justice organizations, we got Cal/OSHA to adopt COVID-19 emergency standards in November.

If you believe that your working conditions are unsafe or unhealthy, follow this link to fill out a form so that SEIU Local 221 may file a complaint with Cal/OSHA on your behalf.

The importance of new Cal/OSHA standards is highlighted by COVID-19 spreading at crisis levels at San Diego County jails. Active infections increased by almost 70 percent in the past week, according to the sheriff’s department.

Demand action: Sign the petition telling the Sheriff and County executives to invest in worker and community health and provide relief to working families.

As SEIU Local 221 President David Garcias says in The San Diego Union-Tribune, “San Diego jails have some of the worst COVID outbreaks statewide, and Sheriff Gore’s response is woefully inadequate.”

New Cal/OSHA workplace protections from COVID-19 give the agency a more powerful tool to enforce safety rules and hold employers accountable.

Fighting COVID-19 is everyone’s responsibility, we all must do our part by wearing masks and social distancing. Employers have an extra level of responsibility to provide well-ventilated, healthy, safe and clean workplaces. Your union is making sure that employers fulfill that responsibility. Tell the Sheriff and County executives that they must do more now by signing the petition.

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