The typical criticism of unions is they only look out for themselves – they want pay raises and more benefits for their members, everything else be damned.
Service Employees International Union Local 221, which represents 11,000 San Diego County government employees, is trying to change that. Its current labor agreement with the county expires this summer. Yes, it’s asking for raises — about 20 percent over the next three years, versus the county’s offer of a 14 percent raise over five years.
But the union is also using labor negotiations to push a broad set of policy goals: It wants to vastly expand the county’s welfare program, reform the criminal justice system and create a countywide “sanctuary” policy for immigrants.
And, for that, it is facing another set of criticisms: trying to change policies that affect everyone in San Diego during what would otherwise be routine, closed-door negotiations over working conditions.
SEIU is also backing two seemingly unrelated bills in the state Legislature that would change how supervisors’ districts are drawn and when elections take place, both of which could help Democratic candidates get onto the all-Republican County Board of Supervisors.
The effort represents a wide-ranging assault on a county government that liberals have longed complained is too stingy at the expense of the county’s neediest residents.
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
Working conditions, staffing levels and policy are intertwined. It may be easier for us to wrap our heads around if they were compartmentalized as some are suggesting, unfortunately it's not that easy.
Let's be clear, union contracts have to be approved in a public meeting of the Supervisors. At that time, they can debate the merits of the specific provisions, including those related to service reforms. The public will then have a say. In a world where "everyhting is negotiable" (just ask the President), raising social justice issues, or any issues for that matter, should not be forbidden. The County negotiators could always tell the union negotiators"no".
Our County is run by a Board of Supervisors who are all Republicans. There are more registered Democrats than Republicans in the County. Those Democrats would probably endorse expanding welfare and reforming the criminal justice system. It would seem that the union is pushing for the Board of Supervisors to rule in a manner which is more reflective of the desires of the populace, rather than to be reflexively conservative.
@Chris Brewster Say, Chris, here's a thought. Since all 5 supervisors are elected by a popular vote, I'm guessing there's a small, outside chance that they reflect "the desires of the populace." But, then again, actual votes shouldn't count as much as Party registration, since Democratic turnout is traditionally low. You have a future in liberal politics.
Mr. Jones: As I imagine you are aware, election outcomes reflect the desires of the majority of those who choose to vote. The desires of the populace can be quite different. For example, it's well documented that a higher percentage of those registered as Republicans vote in primary elections, as opposed to those registered as Democrats. Even so, there are members of the populace who are registered to vote and do not; and others who are eligible to vote, but do not register (or vote).
@Chris Brewster Ex-actly. Like I said, you're DNC material.
Foxes guarding the hen house.
This is a not only a threat to democracy but an affront to all taxpayers whom are not union members or county employees.
They get their say just as we all do.
At the ballot box.
The county supervisors need to step up and make this abundantly clear.
County workers are overpaid and there should not be ANY increase in pay of benefits for 5 or more years. I'm tired of having my taxes increase so frequently so they can live the good life and retire at 55.The Union is not representing me in becoming a sanctuary. I believe we should follow Federal law or change the law. Or maybe I should become a sanctuary household and ignore city and county laws/rules. If the county can ignore laws it is ok for me to do the same.
@Elmer Walker Overpaid? Are you stuck in the 70's or just believe fake news sources? I'm one of the county workers who works diligently to support our brave officers and the public safety of the community by activating or closing supervised probation cases, copying and distributing court reports, and scanning court orders into the system. We're understaffed, and when we do get someone hired it's at a lower tier and the odds are against retaining them. I'm at the top step of my position doing this full time for a grand total of a three digit paycheck every other week which keeps falling further behind for what I pay monthly to live in one of the the least expensive apartments left in San Diego. We have one person in my classification who had to leave an abusive situation and has been living in her van because her income wasn't enough to qualify her for any vacant rentals in the area. BTW, I'm 63 and know that without exception individuals from the county who can now retire at 55 and live a good life in which their county pensions are a major factor are all in top management.
@Robert Parkinson @Elmer Walker No> I looked up salaries in the County Web site. You are understaffed according to your standards, but overstaffed by non governmental workers standards. Everyone gets to the top step and if they are not capable of being promoted, just stay there. Just because you need more money to live in an apartment is not justification for a raise. You should have said how long you have been at the county because if you started work at a normal age of say 21and you are now 63 that means you have worked for 42 years and would certainly qualify for superb pension unless you are in a very unskilled job. My guess is you believe all the distorted info from you union, feel sorry for yourself and had no intention of getting more education to qualify for a better job. Try the private sector and if want to better yourself.
@Elmer Walker @Robert Parkinson If I were hired at 21, that would have been 1975 and I'd have been grandfathered into the top pension tier. Things have changed since then. I've been at my position with the county for the last ten years. I may not be an officer but my work is necessary for them to be free to do their jobs protecting the public. I don't have anything to say to someone so callous that they don't believe those who provide the services to help keep us safe from crime deserve to be able to have a roof over their head. This is a skilled job, and not one you can just walk and get hired without going through rounds of testing, interviews and an extensive background check.
@Robert Parkinson @Elmer Walker Typical union bully answer. Calling me callous because I don't agree with you. If you have only been there ten years you can't expect to be offered normal exorbitant pay and benefits. You need a reality check on the work you do the training it took to learn your job and what an equivalent job in the private sector would pay.
This is open and shut, unions are allowed to negotiate pay, benefits and working conditions, period. If the County allows them to get a toe hold into policy, they will lose all control. They will become another Detroit. Unions want a say, but no consequences. The County should say "This is not subject to negotiation, next subject?"
There are numerous NLRB decisions on this.
Poor staffing and management decisions lead to poor working conditions for workers, poor service delivery for residents, I think this is great.
I guess the county and taxpayers are lucky that Local 221 is not also demanding “truth, justice and the American way….”.Or are they? To call these demands "overreach" understates the arrogance of this bunch. Last I checked, no one appointed the SEIU to speak for the voters in general.