Union divisions - Page 2

SEIU Local 1021 fights with employers — and its own employees — over salary and benefit cuts

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SEIU Local 1021 opposed givebacks by city workers in last year's contract negotiations.
SF EXAMINER FILE PHOTO BY JOSEPH SCHELL

While Sanchez said she resents being compared to the employers that her union battles, her rhetoric about the need for fiscal discipline is echoed by city officials who say they are already being generous with workers and they can't afford to continue paying salaries that are so far beyond market rates.

"The city has to look at all the costs and be fiscally responsible and prudent," said Susan Gard, a spokesperson for the city's Department of Human Resources. "We don't have the luxury of just looking at what's best for employees."

As allowed by the two-year contract Local 1021 reached with the city last year, DHR did a study comparing local salaries with eight other jurisdictions, finding that positions such as social workers, clerks, secretaries, custodians, and nursing assistants were between 16 and 48 percent above the Bay Area average. So the city is seeking to lower the salaries in 43 job classifications (applied to new hires only) and raise them for four classifications. The proposal will go before an arbitrator for a decision early next month.

Gard said the increases take into account San Francisco's high cost of living and historic desire for pay equity, so most increases are less than half of the pay differentials the survey revealed. "They would all still be above market rates," she said.

But Local 1021 officials say most of these positions had their salaries deliberately increased back in the 1980s and 1990s as part of an official city policy promoting pay equity for jobs often held by women and minorities. Even though that provision was removed from the official City Charter in 1996, they say it remains an important city policy.

"The city is rolling back decades of historic work on pay equity in this city," Daly said. "We were concerned about equal treatment of workers who were disproportionately women and people of color."

To highlight that pay equity issue, Local 1021 is planning a rally on Feb. 14 at noon outside DHR offices at 1 South Van Ness Avenue. Gard denies that the DHR proposal rolls back pay equity advances: "The city is committed to that principal, equal pay for equal work, and we don't think our proposal erodes that."

Sanchez said Local 1021 employees are undermining the union's position in fights like this one, but they say the local needs to recognize and reward their work rather than justifying givebacks by comparing employees to members. "We don't want to play the 'our benefits are better than X-group' games," Nick Peraino, a 1021 researcher and CWA steward, told us. "We work very hard on behalf of the membership."

Sayer accused Local 1021 leaders of arrogance and told us, "There is an attitude problem on the bargaining team and a reality problem on the part of the local," a tone that that Sanchez sometimes mirrored when talking about the CWA campaign against her leadership.

Yet such vitriolic rhetoric may have as much to do with internal union politics as it does a true impasse. The leaders of the revolt by SEIU employees recently tried to decertify CWA and go with more forceful representation, a vote they lost badly but which may have spurred CWA to toughen its approach. Similarly, after SEIU members have accepted some bad contracts in recent years, some members may resent the organizers. Sanchez stressed how Local 1021 is member-led and responsive to the needs of workers, despite the current conflict.

"We want to make this organization good and strong," Sanchez said, "and you can't do that if you're screwing over someone."

Comments

Welcome to the world of being an employer, with limited resources and big pension liabilities. What cruel irony

Posted by Richmondman on Feb. 12, 2013 @ 7:43 pm

How arrogant it is for her to suggest that it is a small group of disgruntled employees. Over 66% of the staff for the union were willing to sign a petition calling out the union's cuts to our members.
What she also conveniently avoids is that the union completely cut retiree health for staff AND staff doesn't get overtime.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2013 @ 11:47 pm

A union of union organizers could only get 2/3 of its members to oppose their own cuts? So either the staff union is no good or the proposed cuts are entirely reasonable!

Posted by Guest on Feb. 13, 2013 @ 10:40 am

I doubt only 2/3 of the staff oppose cuts.

That is like saying that, less than half of the 1021 membership (54,000) had a say in voting for the current E-Board.......oh wait, I dont want to open up Pandora's box......

Posted by Guest on Feb. 13, 2013 @ 7:01 pm

It is a cruel irony that a labor leader would describe organized workers a small number of disgruntled workers when over 2/3rds of our membership signed a petition against all of the cuts they are threatening.
What she also conveniently avoids is that 1021 took away our retiree healthcare.
She also doesn't mention that we don't get overtime.
Our sick leave accrual was reduced and paid holidays were reduced.

If we were treated with respect and dignity, these things wouldn't rankle so much, but as she said, we are just a "small number of disgruntled workers."

Posted by 1021 staff on Feb. 13, 2013 @ 12:02 am

Ha Ha ha, real spirit of Mother Jones and John Lewis and there, Union organizers wanting overtime.....puuuleeeese! I guess 75-85 thousand per year with a pension and health benefits aren't enough, poor things...

Posted by Guest on Feb. 13, 2013 @ 8:13 pm

Interesting that this article does not even mention the words "RETIREE MEDICAL" because SEIU 1021 have none of that while campaigning for these benefits for members.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 13, 2013 @ 9:56 am

Oh yeah, what is the new slogan of SEIU Local 1021 coming from the top - "No Concessions!".

Posted by Guest on Feb. 13, 2013 @ 10:16 am

The real irony here is that the staff made their own bed. If they fought as hard for the members' contracts as they are now for their own, the union wouldn't be in this position.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 13, 2013 @ 10:34 am

Hilarious, since members voted their on their own contracts.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 13, 2013 @ 2:22 pm

Member run, right?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 13, 2013 @ 3:09 pm

The real irony here is that if the staff fights for their own contract, they are seen as disloyal to the labor movement, and the member leadership targets them and calls them a small number of disgruntled workers..

Posted by 1021 staff on Feb. 13, 2013 @ 10:46 am

By fighting for your contract, do you mean accusing one of the most progressive unions in the area of "sweatshop-type working conditions?"

Does CWA provide its staff with fully funded healthcare and 2 pensions?!?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 13, 2013 @ 12:05 pm

Given that the San Francisco Bay Area average employee wage is $7.25 hourly, 16-48% amounts to $8.41-$10.73 hourly. This amounts to subsistence wages. Since unions operate under the same inequality fundamentals as the more widespread neoliberal platform, the human struggle to survive with episodic “violent adaptation” will continue and eventually worsen. The union structure will crumble, as the neoliberals intend.

Posted by Awayneramsey on Feb. 13, 2013 @ 12:50 pm

You misread that section. Those percentages are a comparison to the same jobs in other cities and counties. The salaries here start at around $65,000 for the jobs at issue.

Posted by steven on Feb. 13, 2013 @ 1:04 pm

Answer very carefully.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 13, 2013 @ 1:43 pm

You can see the jobs, their salaries, and how it compares to local jurisdictions here: http://sfdhr.org/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=16854

Posted by steven on Feb. 13, 2013 @ 2:42 pm

@Clarification: Oh contrar, et seq: "... a study comparing local salaries [in San Francisco proper] with eight other jurisdictions, finding that positions such as social workers, clerks, secretaries, custodians, and nursing assistants were between 16 and 48 percent above the Bay Area average."

Although average pay rates in San Francisco are more than other SF Bay Area cities and I shall not belabor the point to answer the questions "why." My mathematical hypothetical merely provides an example of how this is so and that the salary numbers I chose are not price-gouging. E.g. at $8.41 hourly a single individual is at 160% of poverty ($17,492.80 vs $17,892) whereas a single individual is at 200% of poverty (or $22,318.40 vs $22,340). These are not $100,000 annual salaries!

No misunderstanding on my part. Maybe over-analyzing on yours.

Posted by Awayneramsey on Feb. 14, 2013 @ 10:15 am

Given that the San Francisco Bay Area average employee wage is $7.25 hourly, 16-48% amounts to $8.41-$10.73 hourly. This amounts to subsistence wages. Since unions operate under the same inequality fundamentals as the more widespread neoliberal platform, the human struggle to survive with episodic “violent adaptation” will continue and eventually worsen. The union structure will crumble, as the neoliberals intend.

Posted by Awayneramsey on Feb. 13, 2013 @ 12:51 pm

"City family" workers get full healthcare for themselves and spouses for life if they were employeed by the city for 5 years. "City family" workers regularly retire under 60 with pensions that guarantee 8.5% returns annually...and SF residents are upset because 55% of the general fund is funneled into paying "City family" salaries, benefits, and family benefits, and pensions.

And here we have internal "City family" in-fighting about these very same issues:

Yet Sanchez and her team, including Political Director Chris Daly, say the internal revolt led by a small number of disgruntled employees misrepresents how good the workers actually have it....generous pension on top of the 401(k) (paying 2.5 percent of final salary per year worked), employer-paid health benefits (costs would go up for the PacificCare plan, but not Kaiser), normal step salary increases, and bonuses in lieu of raises in each of the last two years.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 13, 2013 @ 3:37 pm

Why are employees who have led the SEIU to a decade of give backs with no apparent plan to turn the tide and bring the fight to corporations and their government still on the job?

What is the incentive of paid organizers to organize if they don't lose their jobs for achieving the accomplishment of managing the rate of surrender of the economic circumstances of their membership?

They're all friends at the end of the day and that counts more than anything else.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 13, 2013 @ 8:49 pm

I love, love love that Roxanne and Chris Daly who makes more than 100,000 a year is talking about a few disgruntled employees. What has Chris Daly lost???? Nothing, he got a promotion to 2nd in command, even while we already have a 2nd in command (um...Pete) who also makes more than 100,000. Let's not talk about Larry Bradshaw, who is a member that is paid more than 100,000 and is a board member working full time at the union. I love how these top earners talk about what the members lost because that is surely not represented in their salaries. Oh the hypocrisy of labor. Let's not even talk about movement fights where unions spend millions upon millions fighting each other! It's laughable!

Posted by Guest on Feb. 14, 2013 @ 7:00 am

Let's be honest. The current "administration" is a joke. They rule the union the same way the Dalys ran Chicago. They constantly violate the rights of workers and pit workers, members and member leaders against one another. Let's not even talk about phony "plans" no matter the number of months or years, if members aren't involved in the shaping (which we were not), and i mean genuine input, not artificial plans devised in manager meetings without members and without staff all geared towards making it APPEAR like input. Up North we call that a sack of...! And that's what Roxanne and all her "follow the "leader" chronies are! Promises, promises, promises and we have not seen anything real or substantial take place here! They sound like some managers i know!

Posted by Guest on Feb. 14, 2013 @ 7:11 am

Many have suggested that SEIU is a cult.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 14, 2013 @ 11:28 am

go through "self-criticism" sessions every Friday where they have to talk about the "value judgements" they've placed on others since the previous week. They all sit there in a room lorded over by galactic emperors Gabs and Daly, who examine them suspiciously for signs of bourgeois behavior.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Feb. 14, 2013 @ 12:10 pm

Mao, more than ever.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 14, 2013 @ 12:28 pm

have never died in the halls of SEIU.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Feb. 14, 2013 @ 1:08 pm

I am a former SEIU 1021 employee. I can say with some authority that SEIU is the worst and most hypocritical employer. They treat there employees like garbage, they encourage member distrust of staff, they don't understand that the hours that organizers put into this organization makes their pay vs hourly rate very low. The hours, weekends, holidays an organizer puts in also takes a hugs toll on there family life and health. It is almost impossible to be an organizer and start a family. You would never see you children. When I started I was working 14 hours a day, including weekends. The pay doesn't seem that much when you think of it that way. Shame on SEIU for playing the game of corporate unionism. Also, the leaders of CWA such as Milie and Lois are corrupt. They will only take on the fights that affect them or their friends. Forget having the little guys back.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 14, 2013 @ 12:22 pm