San Diego County workers have a somewhat unusual demand during this round of labor negotiations: significant policy changes.
Typically, public employee unions limit their bargaining to pay, benefits and working conditions. And to be sure, the 11,000 county workers represented by the local Service Employees International Union is looking for a raise. They’re asking for about a 20 percent raise phased in over three years, while the county is offering 14 percent raises over five years.
But as Ry Rivard covers in a new story, SEIU is also trying to implement major policy changes through its labor negotiations. It’s asking to expand the county’s welfare program, make criminal justice reforms and adopt a “sanctuary” policy for immigrants.
Pushing for the changes along with SEIU is a new umbrella group including progressive groups like the ACLU and the Center for Policy Initiatives.
“We’re not about just us, we’re about our community, and we are the community and we are the taxpayers,” said Gerrell Howard, a county worker who is part of the negotiations.
The county is not fond of the approach. Labor negotiations aren’t the place for policy discussions, a county spokesman said.