Sacramento Valley Union Labor Bulletin

Owned and Published by the Sacramento Central Labor Council and the Sacramento-Sierra’s Building & Construction Trades Council, official councils of the AFL-CIO


SEIU state workers win new contract after detentions

By Sheri Williams

After a picket at the state capitol in which eight labor leaders were detained, the Local 1000 bargaining team reached a tentative agreement with the state in late August.

“This agreement reflects our best efforts to respond to the priorities our members identified in town halls and bargaining surveys,” said Irene Green, Local 1000 Vice President of Bargaining. “In many ways, we’ve been able to achieve the respect, the protection, and the pay that we’ve been fighting for.”

The agreement includes a 10% general salary increase for workers, and a $165 direct monthly premium healthcare stipend. It also includes pay raises for some of the lowest paid workers and a reduction in retiree health care plan contributions among many other gains.

The deal came days after SEIU and Labor allies shut down the Capitol swing space on O Street. During an afternoon action, with temperatures reaching past 100 degrees, hundreds of union members and allies picketed in front of the building.

But with negotiations at a stalemate, dozens of people took over the building. Some staged a sit-in on the main staircase, preventing legislators and visitors from accessing the higher floors. Others blocked the front doors, joining arms and chanting, “Shut it down.”

The California Highway Patrol detained eight protestors, including Fabrizio Sasso, head of the Sacramento Central Labor Council.

“I am proud to have been a part of this act of civil disobedience,” Sasso said later. “Peaceful actions such as this are powerful tools to get the attention of employers, including the state.”

Also among those detained was Lorena Gonzalez, head of the California Labor Federation; Sacramento Councilwomen Katie Valenzuela and Caity Maple; and SEIU member Jonah Paul.

“Yesterday I was arrested with workers and leaders in an action to support a good contract for California state workers. They charged us with ‘disrupting state business’ and I’m laughing,” Paul wrote on social media. “What’s disrupting state business is the state underpaying us, overworking us, and keeping vacancies high.”

SEIU backed that sentiment on its own social media and credited the action with bringing the state back to the bargaining table.

“The State heard us loud and clear. Thanks to our actions, the support of our members, and the whole California labor movement, we are back at the table today,” the union wrote. “Our fight for respect, protection, and pay continues.”

SEIU 1000 has been battling the state for a new contract since April. The former contract expired at the end of June. At issue is a critical demand from union members that their pay be fair—enough to cover basic expenses such as food and rent. Right now, some full-time union members are forced to go to food banks for assistance or even live in vehicles or on the street.

The union said to look “for bargaining updates over the next handful of days with details on economics and other key provisions of the new deal,” or to check the SEIU website.

SEIU also explained the process the tentative deal will need to pass in order for a new contract to go into effect.

“To become a contract, the Tentative Agreement must go through a number of steps in order to become law and the document that governs our working relationship with the State. Firm dates for these steps will be finalized within a few days,” the union said.

Once a tentative agreement has been reached between Local 1000 and the state, the Local 1000 Statewide Bargaining Advisory Council (SBAC) votes on whether to recommend ratification, the union explained.

Assuming the SBAC is in favor of ratifying the TA, it is then submitted to the members for a ratification vote. Only SEIU Local 1000 members can vote on whether to ratify a tentative agreement. The California Legislature must also review, vote on, and approve the Tentative Agreement. If passed by the Legislature, the Tentative Agreement becomes part of the state’s budget bill.

Finally, the governor must sign or veto the bill.

With member ratification, legislative approval, and the governor’s signature, the new contract—also referred to as the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)—becomes law, the union said.