SEIU reps pleased with tentative contract

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SEIU workers march April 18, demanding a contract much like the one they got
PHOTO BY ANNA BAKALIS

After heated negotiations, the city has come to a tentative two-year contract agreement with SEIU Local 1021. 

The union, which represents 12,000 city workers, has staged large protests in recent weeks while negotiators worked on the contract. The union was opposed to pay cuts and increases in health care costs that the city originally proposed.

With the new agreement, city workers will get a three percent pay increase, to kick in next year.

The arbitrator of the negotiations also ruled in favor of the union on the issue of temporary workers, who mostly don’t currently enjoy benefits or job security. Now, temporary city workers who have worked 1500 hours over the past three years will be prioritized for permanent jobs.

The SEIU did compromise on some parts of the deal. The new contract won’t include travel pay previously provided to people who commute outside the city for work. There will also be new restrictions placed on union organizing, as union stewards will need to be “escorted” into what the city deems “confidential areas,” restricting union access to work environments.

Larry Bradshaw, 1021 Vice President, has been at the table since negotiations began in February. “I’m very happy with the results,” said Bradshaw. “Its the first agreement since 2009 where the city is not going to balance the budget on the back of working families.”

In the years since 2009, city workers have had deferred pay wages, wage concessions, and increased health care costs. Bradshaw says the new contract will put base wages back at 2009 levels.

“I think in the first years of the recession our members were willing to sacrifice,” said Bradshaw. “But then year after year, they don’t want to keep doing that when the city is not going after corporations. They’re just sitting on wealth and the city is not taxing that wealth.”

That sentiment has led to the SEIU’s call for increased taxes on some corporations in the city. That’s the issue they address in the above video, which may become a TV commercial for what may become a ballot measure in November that would restructure the business tax code.

SEIU Local 1021 members are currently in the process of voting to ratify the contract. The vote will be done by Monday evening, just in time for the Board of Supervisors to ratify the agreement at their May 15 meeting.

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