SEIU 1021 employees authorize strike as its clash with the city goes to arbitration

SEIU Local 1021 won a good city contract last year using a show of force and solidarity in City Hall and the streets.
Joseph Schell

[UPDATE: The two sides reportedly reached a tenative agreement over the weekend]. Service Employees International Union Local 1021, which represents most city employees in San Francisco, continues to fight both internal and external challenges, with its own staff employees overwhelmingly authorizing a strike just as the union battles the city over pay equity issues.

As we reported last month, SEIU Local 1021 organizers, researchers, negotiators, and other professional staff, represented by Communication Workers of America Local 9404, have been without a contract since last fall and they're resisting concessions to their pensions and health care benefits that President Roxanne Sanchez and her leadership team are seeking.

After several cancelled negotiating sessions between the two sides (which haven't met since our story was published), CWA last week called for a strike authorization vote that was approved by 94 percent of voting members. CWA Area Director Libby Sayre and Nick Peraino, a CWA shop steward at Local 1021, say the vote repudiates Sanchez's characterization that it is a small but vocal group that is unhappy with management.

“We're very much united in our position and our willingness to do what it takes to get a decent contract,” Peraino told us. Sayre told the Guardian, “There is widespread sentiment they're being low-balled by management.”

The two sides are scheduled to meet tomorrow (Fri/15), and Sayre told us the likelihood of a strike “depends on what management's attitude is tomorrow.”

Sanchez and her core leadership team, including Vice President of Politics Alysabeth Alexander (both she and Sanchez are on leave from their jobs at Tenderloin Housing Clinic) and Larry Bradshaw, the vice president for the San Francisco region, last week won decisive re-election victories, indicating they have strong support from members.

Sanchez didn't return a phone call seeking comment, but Local 1021 Political Director Chris Daly told us that he expects the dispute with employees to be resolved without a strike. “We have reason to believe it's a tactic before they come to settle,” he said. He also questioned how many people voted in the election, and Sayre hasn't returned our call with that follow-up question.

Meanwhile, Sup. John Avalos last week held a hearing before the Land Use and Economic Development Committee on Local 1021's dispute with the city over a proposal by the Department of Human Resources to unilaterally lower the salaries on new hires in 43 job categories. Such changes were allowed in hard-won contract that the union negotiated with the city last year.

City officials say the salaries are too high based on a survey of similar positions in other Bay Area cities and counties, but the union has cast it as a pay equity issue, noting that the jobs are disproportionally held by women and minorities and they were deliberately increased in the '80s and '90s to offset historical institutional sexism and racism.

But pay equity provisions were removed from the City Charter during its 1997 revision, and Avalos has indicated he may sponsor legislation to address the issue. But in the meantime, Daly said appeals to Mayor Ed Lee to weigh in have been ignored and DHR officially submitted its pay reduction proposal to the arbitrator in the dispute on Monday.

So stay tuned, folks, San Francisco's biggest labor union has a lot of the table right now and we'll let you know how it turns out.


strike? Please say it is so.

and what possible bargaining chips do these unskilled janitors and clerks think they could possibly have in trying to defend indefensible and unsustainable health and pension benefits?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 14, 2013 @ 5:35 pm

97% of how many? 10, 15, 5, 30.....makes a difference, not revealing this shows there probably is very little support for it.

Posted by Guest Confederation of Dunces on Mar. 14, 2013 @ 6:22 pm

You're quite right to bring this up. A statisticulation was committed.

See another example:

"How Time magazine lied about workplace gender violence"

Posted by Male Matters on Mar. 16, 2013 @ 7:17 am

There are approximately 100 workers in the CWA 9404 Bargaining Unit that represents SEIU 1021 employees who work all over Northern California.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 14, 2013 @ 9:16 pm

How many voted out of the 100 workers to strike to reach a "94%" voted to strike, this is critical information in knowing are these people blowing smoke or for real. What if 30 people voted and it's 94% of this number, wouldn't be much of a strike...

Posted by Guest Confederation of Dunces on Mar. 15, 2013 @ 9:42 am

The numbers get made up to suit the desired outcome.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 15, 2013 @ 9:52 am

These folks are priceless. Could we bother anyone who is not on leave to fix a pothhole...??

Posted by Guest on Mar. 14, 2013 @ 11:22 pm

then would anyone even notice the difference?

Posted by anon on Mar. 15, 2013 @ 5:52 am

This is what near end times for labor looks like.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 15, 2013 @ 5:58 am

Greed and envy has cut them down to size.

Posted by guest on Mar. 15, 2013 @ 6:10 am

No, incompetent, insular group think that came to believe its own bullshit that was rooted in a bygone era, rendered labor incapable of defending against an increasingly aggressive corporate rampage.

That is what led to the demise of the labor movement.

Yes, capital went on a brutal offensive, but if you're going to get paid to do the job and don't do the job, then you get to own the failure. And yet these people continue to languish on labor's payroll, surfing the wave down to serfdom.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 15, 2013 @ 6:43 am

What do you think unions could have done differently?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 15, 2013 @ 6:53 am

where unions forged close links to social democrat parties, broadened their outlook and, in many cases, union officials became elected government officials and cabinet members, thereby ensuring both a more modern and progressive union and "friends in high places".

US unions have stayed narrowly-focused, disinterested in broader issues and kneejerk in their response to any modernization. As such, union membership is at a multi-decade low and has vanished in many area's of commerce, including all the more innovative and successful businesses.

And of all the unions, the public sector unions have been the most myopic and sekf-destructive, to the point where most posters see public sector pay and benefits as out of line and, on the back of that public outrage, they are not having their clocks cleaned.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 15, 2013 @ 7:15 am

As I recommended to my friends in labor, what, a decade ago, the growing gap between organized and unorganized labor was headed towards a punctuation that would restore equilibrium. What was needed was for labor to have leveraged its resources to make itself relevant to the 85% of working folks who are not organized or represented. Note the use of the past subjunctive tense.

Labor did not do this, they preferred to preserve head count and focus their attentions on "the most vulnerable." Perhaps there are too many city and nonprofit employees on the public rolls? Not an argument for cutting jobs right now, but still. It is clear that in a climate of increasing scarcity and economic insecurity that the reservoirs of liberal white guilt that supported a "most vulnerable" priority have long since been exhausted.

This left labor's flank undefended and corporate power moved in for the massacre.

Labor, even weakened as it is, has more resources than the rest of the non-corporate political sector combined. But the Andy Stern ivy league cohort and the six figure union management layer have an affinity to corporate power instead of an adversarial relationship. They are relegated to shaking their fists in the air, punching through the top of their hat, and yelling "why, you!" as their opponents make off with the goods.

Just as the local nonprofit cohort has made peace with corporate power and is negotiating around the edges as gentrification rages, organized labor cast its lot with the Democrat Party as the Democrats have been on a two decade long rampage against organized labor, starting from NAFTA up until this present time. NAFTA looks quite quaint compared to Obama's anti-American people, pro-corporate agenda.

The problem is that today's unions were organized by people who are long dead. Those employed by the unions could not organize replacements from the ground up as their predecessors did, they don't have the skillset or the drive. So unions without organizers willing to do the hard shoe leather WORK of organizing are just corrupt bureaucracies. There is as much fear within union culture of holding allies accountable for failures as there is of confronting corporate power. It is all just about marking time and getting paid while the pay is good.

This is not to say that there are not occasional bright spots amidst the labor gloom. But the empirical evidence demonstrates conclusively that the backdrop is much darker than the spots are bright and the trend shows no signs of reversing. Not only is labor losing for its own, it is losing for the rest of us.

My read is that unions are the 8-track tapes of workplace democracy and we need to look to new forms.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 15, 2013 @ 8:07 am

That makes sense as a clever and familiar turn of phrase which references a discredited audio technology in the context of a familiar cultural bias towards new technology, but it can only *really* be taken seriously if you provide some clues as to what new forms of workplace democracy we need to look at, and how those forms can be realized.

Posted by lillipublicans on Mar. 15, 2013 @ 8:29 am

We've discussed cooperative workplaces as one model of workplace democracy.

Think of me as the nerve impulse that signals the imperative to adapt to the creature. How we successfully adapt is another question, one that I cannot answer. But the first step is to dispense with the knee jerk defensiveness towards a labor movement that is no longer hefting its freight. That obstinate position weighs down the drive to adapt.

The goal has to be workplace democracy. We should not fetishize any one tool that we once might have thought could do the job, especially when its blade has been dulled beyond repair.

For the record, I only owned one 8 track tape, Talking Heads "More Songs about Buildings and Food" that I used to play real loud when I'd close up a restaurant I worked at while in high school.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 15, 2013 @ 9:02 am

co-operative model was Goldman Sachs, ironically. Although even they went public a few years ago.

Posted by anon on Mar. 15, 2013 @ 9:31 am

8-tracks worked tolerably well with corporate music's 2 1/2 - 3 minute songs of the early sixties, and their lower fidelity-- and life-expectancy-- relative to hi-fi records represented a chance for record companies to ring up multiple sales of the same music.

While the endemic cross channel noise, wow, flutter, and tape hiss, and binding were ever scarcely tolerable, when the advent of FM radio and drug-oriented rock and roll changed led to long and longer tracks, the problem of the tapes having to break into songs to switch channels proved to be *the* killing flaw.

I had "Fly Like An Eagle" on 8-track and it had one notably bad song break.

As for you being the "nerve impulse"... no, it's too easy...

... anyhow, I also need to point out that your "I'm just here to point to the problem and its for others to provide a solution" stance fits in all too well with your apparent predilection for wanton destruction.

(Less Shiva-mindedness from marcos would be ever so much a boon to us little people.)

Posted by lillipublicans on Mar. 15, 2013 @ 9:41 am

Marcos is our resident management consultant. Except that he works for free.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 15, 2013 @ 9:44 am

Stairway to Heaven was particularly prone to KA-CHUNK the 8-track tape song splitting problem.

Either what we're doing works or it does not work. Those who get paid to do work are ethically incapable of objectively analyzing that which they have a financial stake in.

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"

Respectful suggestion has been tried. Now we're at the point where we drag out the political two-by-four to see if that works.

Doing nothing does not preserve the status quo. The status quo means increasing rates of loss. You are defending surrender.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 16, 2013 @ 6:42 pm

"If there is an excess on my side, I accept. And I might apologize. But who is causing more harm? Do I cause any harm because I call him a devil? He bombs people, villages, and he invades nations."

Posted by marcos on Mar. 17, 2013 @ 7:31 am

they are not the same as well-deployed two-by-fours.

We have to look closely at our fellows who habitually cause explosions in our midst.

Posted by lillipublicans on Mar. 17, 2013 @ 8:09 am

You sound like Obama dismissing Chavez, Morales or dispatching Manuel Zelaya.

Politics has to be a meritocracy more so than a social club.

The only merits rewarded in liberal/progressive/left politics are tapping into funding by a foundation or the government which is a perverse incentive to never make change.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 17, 2013 @ 8:28 am

so I think people will see how it's hard for me to make sense of your comment outside of it being more of your typical scattershot nonsense.

You are obviously obsessed with the notion that the "liberal/progressive/left" deserves criticism. While you occasionally leaven such comments with astute observations in regard to public policy, it remains that you never have anything positive or constructive to say.

Posted by lillipublicans on Mar. 17, 2013 @ 9:11 am

What is your opinion of the recent history of labor, the current circumstance of labor, and the likely prospects for labor?

Posted by marcos on Mar. 17, 2013 @ 9:41 am

A job is merely something we do to contribute to overall society. If we're not very good at one job, we try to find something else to do more suitable to our talents. If the work organization is poorly managed, someone else will take over and hopefully perform the tasks better and we'll look for another organization that is better managed or more sustainable.

If organizations are able to use a more collaborative process to strengthen and sustain the organization, good for them. But leave most of us out of it. A job is just a stupid job, nothing more. The idea of the "Organization Man" went out in the 1950's when most thinking people realized there was much more to life than what job we did or who we worked for.

We should reject patriarchial notions that the "workplace" is some sort of family or a collection of friends and allies. They're merely co-workers, some we may like and some we may not. Most of us don't want to be bothered by workplace decisions or the tedious obsessions of our co-workers. We only want to do our job and then go home to where our friends, family, and life interests reside.

If we don't think we are fairly compensated or adequately acknowledged for our efforts, we should find another job. If society's economic spoils are not being divided up equitably, that's a political discussion that involves the entire society. If significant parts of the population are unemployed or underemployed, they should organize to toss out the exisiting political leaders and find other leaders who will change the current policies, or they should protest and cause financial, political, and social problems for the existing leadership so that changes are made to the exisiting status quo.

The main economic issues facing the world are not production and workplace organization; they are distribution of the economic output and the overall economic and community security. These issues will be fought at the highest political levels, and not within the individual workplace. Find me someone overly concerned about "workplace democracy" and I'll show you someone who probably has some serious unresolved mommy, daddy, and self-esteem issues that likely won't be alleviated no matter how democratic the workplace decision making process is conducted.

Is there anything more ironic and laughable than anti-social personalities spouting their opinions about how communities or workplaces should organize themselves? Yes, I'd just love to work in an organization where folks like anon, Lucretia, and some of the other obsessive posters here are telling me what I should support and how to think.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 15, 2013 @ 10:50 am

some sort of family or a collection of friends and allies" become "patriarchal" in your mind?

Posted by lillipublicans on Mar. 15, 2013 @ 11:11 am

and it can't be parsed as an artifact of that movement without the words of Upton Sinclair:

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"

Posted by lillipublicans on Mar. 15, 2013 @ 9:03 am

So how does the feedback from the collapse of labor get fed back to labor so that it changes what it does?

Posted by marcos on Mar. 15, 2013 @ 9:17 am

contract negotiations, having their pay cut like CCSF staff, paying more into their health and pension plans (everyone) and otherwise being rendered irrelevant.

Eventually they will figure it out.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 15, 2013 @ 9:51 am

The feedback loop appears to be too long and convoluted for the feedback to effect changes in behavior before unions become irrelevant.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 15, 2013 @ 10:17 am

addressing the structural fiscal liabilities while preserving existing benefits. The workforce would not accept cuts to pensions, pay or healthcare, but they were willing to sell out workers who were not yet hired.

The only real alternative to that would have been significant layoffs.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 15, 2013 @ 9:33 am
Posted by lillipublicans on Mar. 15, 2013 @ 10:01 am

What management did was give them a choice, along these lines. We offer you either:

A) A 10% across the board cut in either pay or workforce, OR

B) You can keep your current deal if you agree to a 20% cut for all new employees.

The older workers wanted to keep theirs, and segregated classes of workers was created. Divide and conquer - very clever.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 15, 2013 @ 10:14 am

Some of these people would not recognize the word "Solidarity" even if it was tattooed in reverse lettering on their foreheads.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 15, 2013 @ 10:32 am

Used to be a member. Seemed to be getting better after Stern left, but now deteriorating. Selling out minority and women dominated jobs in favor of male dominated and manager jobs. Absolutely disgraceful. Any organization that would have Chris Daly as 'political director' obviously is not going to have a positive working relationship with the Mayor's office and Human Resources. If Daly is political director where does that leave Gabriel Halland? Besides grossly overpaid, I mean.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 15, 2013 @ 10:47 am

That means the government, most obviously. And a few businesses like docks and trucking, which we need even if all manufacturing is outsourced to more competitive nations.

Throw in some older-school businesses like hotels and airlines, and that covers most of where unions remain in any way relevant.

But even that unambitious remit is being diluted away as people look to their own individual skills, rather than collective solidarity, for the bestd eal they can get.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 15, 2013 @ 11:45 am

Sinking...sinking fast...

...under the weight of unsustainable ($ billion underfuned) pension obligations.

The "city family" lives in fantasyland.

Posted by Troll the XIV on Mar. 15, 2013 @ 12:00 pm
Posted by Guest on Mar. 17, 2013 @ 5:25 pm

REALLY? "Sanchez... Alexander... and Larry Bradshaw, the vice president for the San Francisco region, last week won decisive re-election victories, indicating they have strong support from members." STRONG SUPPORT FROM MEMBERS -REALLY? IS THE REPOTER KIDDING? Bradshaw was "elected" (more like "selected" in a rigged election) by a mere 683 so called "votes" out of 15000+ members in this region. this amounts to a only 4.5 percent of the entire membership in his district. his opponent received 495 "votes" or 3.3 percent of the vote. the difference of 185 "votes" or a 1.2 percent favor of the entire members! HARDLY STRONG SUPPORT.

Posted by GUEST on Mar. 20, 2013 @ 10:33 pm

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