From the Desk of Local 1000 Board Chair Bill Hall
Last week, the members of SEIU 99, Education Workers United, won an historic victory at the bargaining table after a three-day strike against the Los Angeles Unified School District. They won significant gains that recognize the value of their work, and they did it by standing together.
Thousands of SEIU99 workers chose to strike after a long negotiation reached impasse in December, and after a strike authorization vote in February, and organizing in the worksite, the employer responded with threats, interrogations, and other unlawful activity.
SEIU99 mounted a comprehensive organizing campaign to win. Like us, they have hundreds of worksites and engaged leaders and activists at most of them. Throughout the campaign, the organizing never stopped, including holding a strike vote in virtually every worksite.
As we fight for respect from the State, and as we make our demands for better wages, benefits, and working conditions, it’s critical that we all understand the conditions under which Local 1000 could call a strike.
On Wednesday, March 29, we held our first Strike School—attended by more than 250 members—where we shared information about our collective right to act, and when a strike is legal and protected. If you haven’t already, please sign up for one of the two additional Strike Schools that are scheduled for April 5 and 12, in advance of when we begin negotiations with the State.
We will need every tool available to win the kind of contract we want. A strong, active membership. Organized worksite actions. Support for our bargaining team. And a willingness to do what’s necessary.
SEIU99 won big: a significant raise, a bonus, and improved health care benefits top the list. But the strike came after years of planning and organizing. They built solidarity with the teachers that brought additional power to the table. The result was these working families, many of whom were struggling financially, at wages much lower than state employment, will feel a modicum of stability … and a whole lot of respect.
We’re making our demand that the State respects us with fair wages that reflect the value of our work and are mindful of the financial landscape we live in. I can promise you that it will not happen casually, or merely through the efforts of a dedicated few. Each of us has the responsibility to make our contract what we want it to be.
In SEIU99’s victory, we saw the results of union members taking responsibility to win for themselves and their families. Join me in a commitment to do what’s necessary win for us, and our families.
William (Bill) Hall
Board Chair, SEIU Local 1000