After kicking off bargaining for our “master table” session last week, members across the state are making their voices heard as we demand a strong contract that Respects, Protects, and Pays the employees that kept California running for the last three years.

On April 18, Bargaining Unit 17 (BU 17), went to the table to begin their unit-specific negotiations with the State. BU 17, which represents registered nurses, is prepared for a long negotiation to get members the pay and respect they have demanded. Our negotiating team is using what they saw earlier in the process to strategize on how best to move forward and prioritize issues that members identified as important in town halls, bargaining surveys, and worksite visits.

“We looked at each and every submission from our members,” said Bob Mutebi, Bargaining Unit Negotiating Committee (BUNC) Alternate Vice Chair for BU 17. “Each article was considered based on this set of data, which determined what we would roll over and what we would propose changes to.”

During Tuesday’s session, our team presented a number of contract articles for “rollover,” a term used to describe parts of the contract that don’t require negotiation this cycle. We rolled over 16 articles Tuesday, with additional minor language changes to 5 articles focused on health and safety concerns. Setting these protections aside during bargaining ensures that we will be able to address the ongoing issues without risking these workplace protections crucial to medical and social services.

“The most important feedback we’ve received from Registered Nurses statewide is work/life balance, scheduling, and salaries”, stated Vanessa Seastrong, Unit 17 Chair.

BU 17 has the most individual articles of all the bargaining units in the contract, with 92 articles whereas most other units have 30 to 40, so negotiations will take longer to go through each article. “Building our strategies around the responses from CalHR allows us to be flexible,” said Seastrong. “These were simple word changes, things that could be handled fairly easily, and we are expecting to have a response from the State next week.”

With this in mind, for upcoming sessions of bargaining, BU17 is going to focus on a strategic approach to address salaries, health, and safety, as well as recruitment and retention issues that have plagued Registered Nurses. 

“This is a long process. A lot of these issues are going to go back and forth for a while,”

said Felicia Barbato, an RN at the California Department of Public Health for 11 years and a member of the BUNC. “Our success at the table is dependent on the strength and unity of our members.”

 “Our members can and do bring the State to the table on issues that are important to us. Members can support their bargaining team at their worksites with Purple Up Wednesdays and by attending events and participating in actions,” said Seastrong.”

Unit 17’s next meeting with the State to win a contract that Respects Us, Protects Us, and Pays Us is set for April 25. To read about what happened in Tuesday’s Bargaining Unit 1, 3, and 4 sessions, please visit the Contract Action Center page at

There’s real truth to the Local 1000 slogan, Stronger Together. We only win a great contract with a strong Local 1000 membership. So, if you’re not already a member, we encourage you to join us today.