Advocacy Victories

Advocacy Center adds hotline: (858) 268-7020

(858) 268-7020

The Advocacy Center is now available at (858) 268-7020. Members who need representation or have questions about their contract should dial that number to get in touch with a full-time advocate. The center also receives assistance from stewards on the job.

The advocacy center provides the following services to members: grievances, intake, Skelly (pre-disciplinary) hearings, investigatory meetings with management when discipline may result, performance evaluation appeals, interactive disability accommodations meetings, disciplinary appeals, working-out-of-class issues, civil-service hearings and binding arbitration.

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Advocacy Center Victories

The Advocacy Center had a busy start to 2016. Year-to-date Advocacy has won or resolved 79 cases. Below is a sampling of SEIU Local 221 wins:


  • RN was denied a portion of her sick leave benefits. SEIU was able to restore her full sick-leave benefits.
  • HSS was denied jury-duty pay. SEIU was able to restore her jury-duty pay.
  • Various HHSA worksites applied new sick leave rules incorrectly. Union worked with the County to ensure management would enforce the rules correctly.
  • HSS received a proposed order-of-termination. SEIU represented the employee at the Skelly Hearing and the employee was reinstated with the discipline removed.
  • PSW received a proposed order-of-suspension. SEIU represent the employee at the Skelly hearing and the suspension was reduced.
  • SEIU routinely helps members with disabilities. SEIU has successfully negotiated several accommodations for HHSA workers with physical limitations.


  • SEIU member was given a proposed order-of-termination. SEIU successfully negotiated a settlement that benefited both sides.
  • Two SEIU members temporarily lost their commercial licenses. SEIU was able to keep both members employed.
  • After two years of negotiations SEIU was able to successfully obtain a permanent accommodation for a disabled member.

District Attorney

  • SEIU successfully removed an unjust LOW of an employee without filing a grievance.


  • An employee worked out-of-class for several weeks, SEIU and ECS reached a settlement to pay the employee to pay the employee for the time worked out of class without having to file a grievance.


  • An employee was terminated at NHA. SEIU filed a grievance on the employee’s behalf and the employee has been reinstated.


  • An employee was assigned to a temporary higher class for several months. The employee continued working the higher assignment longer than the initial duration of the assignment. Management did not pay the employee for the extra months of higher class pay. SEIU worked with Labor Relations to resolve the issue and the employee was paid correctly.
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Advocacy Center Victories

The Advocacy Team trains Stewards and handles all employee grievance and discipline issues.

County of San Diego


– Member received a proposed termination. SEIU was able to reach settlement before Skelly hearing. Employee received a 10-day suspension instead.
– SEIU attended an interactive accommodations meeting with employer. Employee was granted the accommodation requested.


– Member placed off work, able to get member transferred as part of accommodation and start work again.
– Member given LOW, reduced to COC (Steward Jose Cintron).
– Member given suspension, reduced to LOR, grieved LOR, reduced to LOW (Steward Johanna Firth).
– Member given suspension, reached settlement with language changes.
– Members are now being paid for travel time according to FLSA standards.
– Member accused of sexual harassment. Represented during IA, charges were unfounded.


– Member denied ability to go to work conference during normal day off. Chula Vista reversed position through negotiations with (Steward Nicole Hobson).


– Member initially denied accommodation but was given one through interactive process.


– SEIU reached an agreement with employer to allow an employee to resign in lieu of termination, school also agreed to pay medical benefits for an additional three months.
– SEIU reached settlement agreement with district in the process of layoffs to come to a favorable resolution for impacted member. Member was planning on retiring by the end of the year, and the district is allowing member to keep position until then so they do not disrupt any retirement plans.

Head Start

– SEIU filed a grievance on behalf of a member who was terminated. SEIU was able to come to a resolution with employer during grievance process and member was brought back to work.
– SEIU filed a grievance on behalf of a member who was terminated. During arbitration hearing, SEIU was able to reach a monetary settlement with employer that member was very happy with.

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Advocacy Center Victories


-Letter of Reprimand and Letter of Warning reduced to confirmations of conferences through grievance procedure. Steward Sofia Arian victory
-Letter of Warning reduced to Confirmation of Conference through grievance procedure.
-Letter of Reprimand reduced to Letter of Warning through grievance procedure.
-Employee’s suspension reduced to Letter of Reprimand through negotiation with County.
-15 day suspension reduced to 5 day suspension through Skelly hearing.
-Settlement agreement over a 15 day suspension through negotiations with County.
-Termination reduced to 30 day suspension through Skelly hearing.
-Temporary appointment given for member working out of class through negotiations with County.
-Pay denied for time worked, through grievance procedure OT was given. Steward Deborah Allison victory
-Only COC issued after Union representation during investigation, two charges were declared unfounded and the third inconclusive.
-Inaccurate COC was fixed through negotiations with County.
-PR changed to be overall standard and almost all improvement needed areas were raised to meet expectations through PR appeal process. Steward Alicia Leyva victory


-Termination reduced to 60 day suspension after Skelly, through negotiations with County.


-Mistake by County during open enrollment for one employee, resolved through informal discussions.

Facilities Management

-Overcharged for health insurance, refund of monies given through negotiations with County.
-Violating medical restrictions, restrictions enforced through negotiations with County.

Planning and Development Services

-LOW wording changed through grievance procedure.

ESC Head Start

– Employee received two quarters worth of an attendance bonus previously not given. Issue was brought well past the grievance deadline, an agreement was reached through informal discussions with HR.

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Advocacy Center Victories!


  • Two terminations reduced to demotions as a result of Skelly hearing.
  • Termination reduced to a suspension as a result of Skelly hearing.
  • 30 day suspension reduced to a Letter of Reprimand as a result of Skelly hearing.
  • 3 internal investigations concluded as unfounded after SEIU showed errors in the accusations.
  • A Letter or Reprimand reduced to a Letter of Warning through the grievance procedure.
  • Wording in a Letter of Warning changed through negotiations with SEIU 221.
  • ESU nurses had been denied lunch and rest breaks – remedied through negotiations with the County.


  • The County initially denied prior out of class experience to be used as qualifying experience for promotional opportunities.

District Attorney

  • The County denied an employee’s ability to return to work without medical restrictions, in violation of the Family Medical Leave Act.  SEIU resolved this issue at the lowest level and the employee returned to work in her former position and pay.

City of Encinitas

  • Unsanitary working conditions were quickly remedied after SEIU intervention.

City of Chula Vista

  • Initially pushing to demote an employee, the City agreed to an accommodation that allows the member to remain in their class.

City of National City

  • An employee was dismissed from work due to a disability. An accommodation process and back pay was given to the employee.

 Head Start

  • A Letter of Reprimand was rescinded after staff was able to show member’s rights were violated.


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Advocacy Center Summer 2014 Victories!

ECS Head Start

An employee received a written warning which was reduced to a communication conference through the grievance procedure.

Superior Court

Three Court reporters were issued five day suspensions that were reduced to Letters of Reprimand after the Skelly conference. Steward Robin Casey worked on all three cases.

Sheriff’s Department

An employee was issued a one day suspension that was reduced to a written reprimand after the Skelly Hearing. The level of suspension was also reduced several times through the pre disciplinary hearings.


An LVN was issued a 30 day suspension which was reduced to a 15 day suspension after the Skelly hearing.


PUSD did not change a job description after they agreed to do so after a meet and confer. SEIU filed a group grievance and it was remedied at step one by changing the job description. Steward Arthur Hall worked on this case.

PUSD was using a substitute in a vacant bargaining unit position as a behind the wheel trainer in the transportation department, essentially giving away bargaining unit work and violating the contract. SEIU filed a group grievance and the issue was remedied at step one. The district agrees not to give away bargaining unit work and will only utilize subs when regular permanent behind the wheel trainers are unavailable. Additionally, the vacant position will also be posted internally. Steward Arthur Hall worked on this case.


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Advocacy Center 2014 Spring Victories!

HHSA – County of San Diego

  • Local 221 won a reclassification of a Community Health Promotion Assistant to a Correctional Counselor.  The employee had worked out of class for years before coming to SEIU for help, and in addition to being reclassified, the employee was awarded a 21% pay increase and 6 months of backpay.
  • Local 221 successfully advocated for a member’s change in leave status from unpaid to paid, by enforcing the contract language.
  • Local 221 stopped a steward from being monitored more closely by management than other workers without having to file an unfair labor practice charge with the state.
  • Union staff worked with stewards to reduce two letters of reprimand to letters of warning through the grievance procedure.
  • Local 221 successfully represented a member in a performance evaluation appeal, changing the overall rating to standard and redacting the negative language.
  • Local 221 successfully negotiated a two week suspension to be served over multiple pay periods in order to mitigate the impact to the membership.
  • Local 221 successfully negotiated a resignation in lieu of termination, therefore making the member eligible for rehire.
  • Union staff worked with departmental human resources officers to ensure that a member’s denial of time off would be granted so that he could attend his child’s school event.
  • Union staff worked with a member’s chain of command to ensure that his workload would be reduced to a reasonable level.
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Advocacy Center Winter 2013-14 Victories!

HHSA – County of San Diego

  • A member’s FMLA claim for child bonding was wrongly denied and fixed by the Advocacy Center staff working in conjunction with HR.
  • An HHSA member’s FMLA that was denied for child bonding was approved after a phone call to HR.
  • A Letter of Warning was reworded as part of a settlement agreement.
  • Advocacy staff argued a 10 day suspension down to 5 days in the Skelly hearing.
  • Oceanside FRC: A steward filed a complaint with HR when an employee was denied union representation in PIP meetings. The PIP was removed and a new one was issued, with union representation allowed (consistent with last summer’s arbitration victory on the same subject).
  • Overtime Cash vs. Comp Group Grievance: SEIU Local 221 and the County reached a settlement agreement on the 100+ member group grievance enforcing the new contract language regarding employee’ requests of cash versus comp (see full flyer here).
  • A Letter of Reprimand was reduced to a Letter of Warning and reworded as part of the grievance procedure.

Library – County of San Diego

  • A Letter of Warning was reduced to a confirmation of conference through the grievance procedure.

Parks and Recreation – County of San Diego

  • A member was awarded 6 months of back pay for performing duties in a temporary higher classification assignment.

MAAC Project – Head Start

  • A steward filed a grievance regarding the terms of a PIP and came to a mutual agreement with management to change its wording.

City of Calexico

  • Advocacy Center staff required the City to reclassify an employee to a higher position after several months of unpaid out of class work.
  • A member was issued a suspension without a Skelly hearing or any other required due process – Advocacy Center staff successfully removed the discipline in its entirety and required the City to reasonably accommodate a workers’ comp restriction for the same employee.
  • Two dispatch members received out of class and back bilingual compensation for time served in a higher classification as part of the grievance procedure.

School Districts

  • Negotiated a resignation in lieu of termination with an agreement not to contest unemployment and benefits paid for an additional 30 days.
  • Stewards represented two employees accused of sexual harassment and the allegations were unsubstantiated in both cases.
  • A steward represented a member in an accommodations meeting and reached an agreement to transfer the member to another site in a different classification.
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Union Members Enforce Contract with First Group Grievance Since Negotiations

SEIU Local 221 Logo

County: Workers Can Request Overtime Pay or Comp Time

San Diego, CA – Last year, SEIU Local 221 members fought hard for a stronger contract that included each employee’s right to request cash payment or compensatory time off for overtime worked. SEIU Local 221 requests are subject to funding availability, but management cannot issue blanket directives on what type of overtime work qualifies for cash pay.

Child Welfare Services (CWS) Director, Debra Zanders-Willis, issued an order via email that violated our MOA by directing managers to “restrict paid overtime” to specific activities. SEIU 221 members took a stand. We enforced our new contract by collecting signatures and filing a group grievance. On January 27th, we found out that as a result of taking action and standing together, we protected our right to request cash pay or comp time for overtime worked.

The County of San Diego is sending an email directing all CWS supervisors and managers to disregard Debra Zanders-Willis’ email restricting overtime pay, and to follow the terms specified in the contract.


“We work hard to keep children safe in San Diego County. We deserve fair compensation. In 2013, the SW bargaining team won stronger language when requesting comp time or overtime pay for working additional hours. But that’s just the beginning. In 2014, let’s keep up the momentum by building a stronger union that benefits our families and the children and communities we serve.”

– Jesus Gonzalez, Protective Services Worker, SEIU Local 221 Steward

A PDF flyer of the above post can be found below.

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SAN DIEGO (January 16, 2014) – A team of organizations in San Diego County will receive $1.9 million over the next two years, to build upon efforts to empower the region’s most vulnerable residents. In a competitive process, San Diego was one of three locations selected to receive the grant from the Open Society Foundations. The other awardees were groups in Puerto Rico and Buffalo, New York.

“This is really about making San Diego more open, just and democratic. It is time that we bring in those who have been marginalized in our community, as a means to make San Diego a more productive and thriving region,” explained Clare Crawford, Executive Director of the Center on Policy Initiatives.

Efforts funded by the grant will focus on the full integration of immigrants and people impacted by the criminal justice system into the region’s civic and economic life through increased access to key services, improvements in the workplace and better access to middle class careers.

“When you are an immigrant it is hard to meaningfully participate in the civic life, if you aren’t making a fair wage or you are afraid to speak up. This grant will help us build the infrastructure to include more residents in rebuilding San Diego in a more equitable and inclusive manner,” said Gloria Morales, a San Diego Organizing Project leader.

“This grant presents a new and exciting chance to expand the opportunities available to those impacted by the criminal justice system. By ignoring these individuals’ rights to participate in society, we don’t just harm the individuals, but we harm their families, friends, and the communities they are a part of. This grant allows us to create spaces for which those impacted by the criminal justice system can grow, learn, and give back to their own communities,” stated Paul Alexander, President and Founder of Pillars of the Community.

The Open Places Initiative was launched in response to profound changes in U.S. demographics, the economy, technology, and shifts in federal and state funding. These changes have dramatically affected local conditions, dynamics, and opportunities and impact how low-income families and communities of color are able to access political, economic, and civic opportunities.
“We hope that our investment in these places, over the years, will encourage people from diverse sectors – policymakers, residents, academicians, advocates, and business people – to come together to bring about positive transformational change,” said Ken Zimmerman, director of U.S. Programs at the Open Society Foundations.

The local team’s proposal was based on three substantive goals:

  • Increasing access to key services that help immigrants and people impacted by the criminal justice system integrate fully into civic and economic life.
  • Decreasing workers’ rights abuses and improving workplace conditions.
  • Reducing barriers that prevent immigrants and people impacted by criminal justice system from having access to middle class occupations.

Organizations in the San Diego team include Employee Rights Center, Center on Policy Initiatives, San Diego Organizing Project, ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties, Christie’s Place, San Diego Youth Development Office, Pillars of the Community and SEIU/Service Employees International Union Local 221 and United Domestic Workers Local 3930.
Foundation partners include The California Endowment, The Ford Foundation, The San Diego Grantmakers, The California Civic Participation Funders (The California Endowment, Color of Democracy Fund, Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund, James Irvine Foundation, Kapor Center for Social Impact, McKay Foundation, PowerPAC Foundation, Rosenberg Foundation, Women’s Foundation of California) and The Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation.


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