The registered nurses who work in California prisons, veterans’ homes, developmental centers, mental health hospitals, Departments of Health Care Services and Public Health, special schools, and other departments represented by Local 1000—Bargaining Unit 17—went to the table with the State on April 25th for the second week of negotiations on unit-specific issues.

Our Unit 17 Bargaining Unit Negotiating Committee (BUNC) presented eight articles as “rollovers,” signaling our desire that the existing language remains unchanged, keeping in place the hard-won rights from previous contract campaigns. The rollover articles include the following provisions from Articles 11 and 12: 

  • 11.2.17 – School for the Deaf and Blind Pay Differential
  • 11.3.17 – Salary Definition
  • 11.5.17 – Release of Paychecks – NOC Shift or First Watch
  • 11.18.17 – Retirement Compensation
  • 11.58.17 – Arduous Pay Differential
  • 12.6.17 – Alternate Transportation
  • 12.10.17 – Replacement of Damaged Personal Clothing and/or Articles
  • 12.13.17 -Tools, Business Equipment, Materials and Supplies

Additionally, this afternoon, the BUNC proposed new language in the following four contract provisions with financial implications to our members:

  • 11.6.17 – Overtime Checks
  • 11.56.17 – Registered Nurse Lead Differential
  • 11.57.17 – Educational Differential
  • 12.18.17 – License Renewal Fees

Finally, the State agreed to five rollover proposals, and thus, a “tentative agreement” was reached on the following provisions:

  • 10.10.17 – Medical Monitoring
  • 10.15.17 – Personal Alarms: CDCR
  • 10.16.17 – Alarm System: DDS and DSH
  • 10.18.17 – Referral of Assault/Battery
  • 10.36.17 – Incident Debriefing

The articles proposed today that have financial impacts for our members represent an important response to a contentious issue for BU 17 members. “We have issues at some of our worksites where the state delays overtime paychecks up to a year, which is both disrespectful to workers and impacts their pay,” said BUNC Alternate Vice Chair Bob Mutebi. “The night shift lead differential of $150 has been in place since 1999. In spite of the changes over the years, the state is resistant to adjust this to reflect inflation and cost of living changes.”

Additionally, the reimbursement of license renewals fees is often delayed due to the CalATERS reimbursement process, which makes it very difficult for our members to receive the money they are owed. “We want to be reimbursed directly within 60 days of when our licenses expire,” said Mutebi. “With the difficult procedure we have now with CalATERS, many workers give up before the process is completed.”

While this represents a large number of articles sent across the table by the BUNC, the negotiating team has noticed a serious issue with the State’s willingness to address critical issues to our members. “We are not even negotiating on many of these articles yet,” said BUNC 17 Chair Vanessa Seastrong. “We gave them 16 articles for rollover last week, and only received 5 back. This is a disturbing signal that it will take a long time to get through our 92 articles that we need to negotiate. We want to move through these minor issues as soon as possible so we can get to the more meaningful issues that matter to our members.”

Simple language changes proposed by the BUNC are under extensive and unnecessary review by the State’s negotiators. While these kinds of delays are not new, this particular State bargaining team has worked with Unit 17 before and should have a thorough understanding of which issues at play are critical and which are procedural.

“We’re asking the State why they are so resistant to making changes to language that deals with non-financial issues when these are existing protections from earlier contracts, sometimes for many years,” said Seastrong. “Moving past these items, while they are important, would help both sides get to the meaningful changes that we need for our members.”

Our negotiating team is interested in an equitable conversation, not delays over minutia that wastes time and delays important resolutions. “The state of California is supposed to be a union-friendly, progressive state,” said BUNC 17 Vice Chair Mary Naidoo. “We should not be experiencing these kinds of difficulties with our process. The State had a whole week to address articles for which they have never shown they have a problem or made any statements that they had any concerns about.”

These concerns will influence our strategy going forward. “We are going to be choosing our words carefully as we move forward so that we can focus on the issues that matter most to our members: respect in the workplace and equitable pay for all members,” said BUNC 17 member Shelia Coonan.

As always, the State’s responses to bargaining are rooted in the amount of pressure SEIU Local 1000 members apply when on the job. “We are passionate at the table and can speak for what is important to our members. We know the low salaries, high turnover and backlogs are hurting our members and their families. We need actions and noise at the workplace. We need noise.  The organized action and the noise in the workplace will support our efforts at the table,” said BUNC member Felicia Barbato. “We increase the pressure as the State feels the heat from members statewide.”

Unit 17’s next meeting with the State to win a contract that Respects Us, Protects Us, and Pays Us is set for May 2nd. To read about what happened in Monday’s Bargaining Unit 11, 20, and 21 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.