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Strike school was inspirational! Over 400 members came and enjoyed a Solidarity Breakfast with Invest in San Diego Families Coalition members, allies and elected officials that pledged to stand with us.
Together we discussed the update from county negotiations. From the outset the County showed no interest in actually bargaining evidenced by the fact that they have illegally moved backwards twice since making their opening proposal, while rejecting nearly every proposal put forth by the Bargaining Team.
San Diego County is sitting on nearly $2 billion in cash reserves, meanwhile they rank at or near the bottom in terms of staffing levels, investment in services and salaries for their employees. We entered the process hopeful that we would reach agreement through honest, fair and constructive bargaining. Unfortunately, the opposite has been true. To date we have been forced to file 4 unfair labor practice charges against the County and many more are in the works.
After reviewing the status of bargaining, members went through a thorough legal training led by our lawyer on our right to take action up to and including a strike if necessary. Some of the key points are summarized below in our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) piece. At the end of the day members pledged to stay strong, expand our support and standing together to fight for our rights!
Key Next Steps:
Continue to show strength in the field through membership growth and getting our petitions signed. If you haven’t already please sign the petition available at https://seiu221.seiu.org/page/signup/petition
Force the County to bargain in good faith by filing Unfair Labor Charges and expanding activity at our worksites.
- Attend the next Campaign Action Team (CAT) meeting on July 18 at 6pm (Location TBA) to hear updates, and discuss whether the bargaining should move forward with a ULP strike authorization vote
- A ULP strike authorization vote could happen as early as late July if the County continues to violate our rights and bargain in bad faith. Our next bargaining session will be July 20, where we will continue to attempt to bargain in good faith
FAQ – Our Rights to Strike Against Unfair Labor Practices
How will I know when the strike is going to occur?
First there will be a strike authorization vote to allow the Bargaining Team to call a strike if necessary. If the majority of the voting members vote to authorize a strike, then the bargaining team will determine when the strike will take place.
Do I have a say in whether or not we should strike?
Yes! All dues-paying members of the SEIU Local 221 are allowed to participate in the strike authorization vote.
Will everyone go out on strike, or will some people have to continue to work during the strike?
Every employee represented by SEIU Local 221 is entitled to participate in the strike, however, the County will likely take the position that they need to have “essential employees” working if there is a strike. In the end, the Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) will determine the number of workers by classification and shift who will be required to work. A judge will decide whether to issue PERB a court order approving PERB’s determination.
What is an “essential employee”, can they participate in the strike?
Public employers try to claim that most, if not all of their employees are “essential” to keeping services up and running. (PERB) almost always finds that the employer has exaggerated. PERB decides what number of workers by classification and shift are “essential” and a judge may or may not agree with PERB.
How will I know if I am an “essential employee” who is unable to participant in a strike?
Before any strike occurs, the County will have to get a court order clearly stating which employees have been determined to be “essential” during the strike. Essential workers should join the picket lines during their breaks, lunch period and before and after work.
Is there a “strike fund” and will it pay my salary while I am out on strike?
Workers will not be paid for the time they are on strike. There is a strike fund and the Bargaining Team will determine how to utilize any funds that are available.
Can the County replace, or fire someone if they participate in the strike?
No! It is illegal to fire or permanently replace any worker who participates in an “Unfair Labor Practice” strike. If we go on strike it will be to protest ongoing Unfair Labor Practices by the county. The County will have to return strikers to their jobs when the strike is over.
Can family members join me on the picket line?
Absolutely! The picket line can, and should be staffed by bargaining unit members and their family members and friends who support them.
Can my manager or the County ask me if I am going to participate in the strike?
No! Employers are NOT permitted to ask employees if they will participate in a strike. However, in healthcare facilities, employers can ask employees but they must make clear that the employee will not experience reprisals.
I am a supervisor and I am also a member of the Union, are there any restrictions on me?
As a union member you are entitled to participate in the strike and you can and should tell your co-workers, including the people you supervise, that you intend to participate in the strike. It is your right to organize for your union and ensure a successful union action. You should not disobey directives by your employer but you should report any directives regarding strike activity to your worksite organizer.
Can we strike before the 90-Day cooling off period in our contract has expired?
YES! The 90-day cooling off period does not apply to Unfair Labor Practice Strikes. We will be striking to protest Unfair Labor Practices by the County so if the members authorize it, the bargaining team can call a strike at any time as long as the contract is expired
Will nurses and other patient care workers be charged with patient abandonment if they strike?
No! Nurses and other patient care workers can legally participate in a strike as long as they begin striking before their shift starts. Nurses should not join the strike in the middle of a shift. If a court order says they are “essential employees” the Union will let them know and consider a strategy regarding issuing them line passes.
If I am on probation at the time of the strike, can I be fired or disciplined for joining the strike?
No, as a probationary employee you have a right to strike under the law, and you cannot be disciplined or terminated for exercising that right.
Will my health benefits or pension be impacted if I strike?
Participation in a strike should not have any impact on your health care or pension unless the strike lasts for a significant period of time. Any member who is told otherwise should contact the Union immediately.
I am a sworn officer, am I barred from striking like firefighters and police officers?
None of the classifications represented by SEIU Local 221 are barred from striking, however, you may be subject to the rules regarding “essential employees.”
If I am out on leave or vacation during the strike, can I still participate in the strike?
Yes! However, you must make sure that your strike activity doesn’t violate any restrictions noted on your FMLA form.