Subject: [SocialistWorker.org] SF workers stop concessions
View original article here:
Analysis: Larry Bradshaw
======== SF WORKERS STOP CONCESSIONS =========================================
Larry Bradshaw, vice president of SEIU Local 1021 (for identification
purposes only), reports on a win in the city and county workers' contract
battle in San Francisco.
June 14, 2012
AFTER MONTHS of campaigning, organizing and demonstrating, thousands of San
Francisco city and county workers won big gains in their contract fight in
Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1021 represents 12,000
workers, including librarians, custodians, social workers, public health
workers and hundreds of other classifications in dozens of city departments.
Like public-sector workers across the country, San Francisco workers have
been hard hit over the past four years, suffering layoffs and economic
concessions in 2009, furlough days in 2010 and pension concessions in 2011.
Vowing to get ahead of the concessions curve, San Francisco workers began
their contract fight early, launching a "no concessions" campaign and
initiating a contract action team (CAT) even before electing their bargaining
San Francisco's city management dusted off their tried-and-true concession
game plan, citing a deficit of $170 million and demanding the continuation of
furlough days, cost-shifting on health care premiums, limitations on the
number of union stewards, and a list of 60 other takeaways.
Local 1021's bargaining team, building on members' concession fatigue,
advanced more than 140 proposals--ranging from pay hikes to protections
against contracting out to improving anti-discrimination language. The CAT
slowly built momentum, starting with surveys, worksite meetings, lunch-time
educationals, job actions and gradually increasingly larger public
The contract fight culminated with 1,500 members massing on April 18 at City
Hall and marching to one of the city's busiest intersections to engage in
civil disobedience. SEIU chose the location for its symbolism--the
intersection housed the City's Department of Human Resources and a large
branch of the Bank of America.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
THE UNION, building on its anti-foreclosure work and drawing on its community
allies, reframed its contract fight and the budget deficit as a "revenue
deficit" and focused on San Francisco's broken business tax.
Ten years earlier, 52 of the country's largest corporations sued San
Francisco to overturn its business tax--a tax levied on corporate profits.
Successive city governments chose not to replace the business tax,
essentially giving highly profitable real-estate firms, multinational
corporations and financial institutions a 10-year "tax holiday."
Local 1021 dubbed its contract fight and its campaign to tax big business
"The City We Need, Not Downtown Greed!" with SEIU members vowing not to take
any further cuts while big business was on a "tax holiday." By shifting the
debate from budget deficit to revenue deficit, SEIU won public support to tax
the 1 percent and to stop balancing the city's budget on the backs of public
In the end, Local 1021 workers successfully resisted new wage concessions,
ended all furlough days, restored all previous economic concessions, and won
a 3 percent pay raise in year two of the contract. This will be the first
real pay raise for San Francisco city workers in nearly five years. Also, the
local held its ground on the health care cost-shifting that most other city
However, an arbitrator ruled that SEIU would be subject to the health care
cuts on the first day after the new two-year contract expires unless SEIU and
the city reached an alternative agreement. Members saw this two-year delay as
a victory, giving them the chance to continue to fight against health care
In the contract fight, SEIU prioritized ending the growing use of temporary
workers. Some 21 percent of the union's 12,000 members were temporary,
provisional or "as needed workers." The union scored a big win in this area,
securing language that severely restricts the city's use of temporary workers
going forward and provides that any temporary worker who has worked 1,500
hours over the past three years will be prioritized for a full-time position.
While the large SEIU city contract is settled, other SEIU bargaining units
continue to battle concessions. Registered nurses represented by SEIU also
won a new contract that successfully resisted a drive by the city to gut
patient-staffing ratios. The nurses stopped most of the city's demands for
takeaways and also secured a 3 percent raise. Local 1021 is continuing its
campaign to win a 3 percent cost of living for the city's publicly funded
SEIU is in coalition with other community organizations to win an
across-the-board raise for all the city's low paid, non-profit workers,
whether unionized or non-unionized.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Published by the International Socialist Organization. Material on this Web
site is licensed by SocialistWorker.org, under a Creative Commons (by-nc-nd
3.0) license, except for articles that are republished with permission.
Readers are welcome to share and use material belonging to this site for
non-commercial purposes, as long as they are attributed to the author and
Sign up for e-mail alerts from SocialistWorker.org.
Published by the International Socialist Organization