We are entering our fourth week of bargaining with the State for a contract that respects, protects, and pays the workers who have kept California running.  The Bargaining Unit Negotiating Committee (BUNC) for Office and Allied Workers represented by Local 1000, Bargaining Unit 4, went to the table on May 9 to bring focus to the financials and their impact on state workers.

The BUNC proposed two 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 are the following:

  • Article 13.12.4 – Auditor and/or Accountant Upward Mobility Program (Unit 4)
  • Article 13.36.4 – Library Technical Assistant (Safety) Upward Mobility (Unit 4)

In addition to these rollovers, the team proposed the following two articles with language changes at the table today:

  • Article 11.1.4 – Special Salary Adjustments for Unit 4
  • Article 11.XX.4 – Operational Availability Incentive Program – DWR (Unit 4)

The State agreed to two rollover articles presented previously, as well as one article proposed by Unit 4 at the table beforehand. These three articles reached a Tentative Agreement with the State:

  • Article 5.13.4 – Upward Mobility Task Force
  • Article 13.12.4 – Auditor and/or Accountant Upward Mobility Program (Unit 4) (rollover language)
  • Article 13.7.4 – Performance Standards (rollover language)

You can read the details of these and all current contract articles at contract.seiu1000.org

Our members made it clear that they were dissatisfied with the current pay for their classification. “We were talking about financials today,” said BUNC Chair Karen Jefferies. “The BUNC and Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) presented on a variety of classifications. The experts felt heard. They came with personal stories, and many of them became very emotional while telling them.”

In addition to their expert insights, SMEs highlighted the personal impacts that make living paycheck to paycheck an unacceptable situation for any state worker. “Several of our SMEs work two jobs, and they come home tired, sometimes not eating before going to sleep so they can rest and work again the next day,” said Jefferies.

One of the subject matter experts presenting today described their situation working for the state in an underpaid classification. “I am a single parent with a special needs child and based on the demands of my job and the high cost of living in the State of California sometimes my choices are life-changing decisions meaning, should I put $20 worth of gas in my car or should I use that money for groceries.”

The paycheck that Unit 4 workers bring home is lacking, in many cases not even covering their basic needs. “We brought up the UC Berkeley Labor Center report several times,” said Jefferies. “The majority of our unit falls within the impacted categories from that report. The paycheck that state workers receive doesn’t cover rent in certain areas.”

According to the findings of the UC Berkeley Labor Center report, 35% of state workers cannot afford to support a family of 4, even with a working partner earning the same wage. More than 69% of state workers would not be able to support themselves and one child on their own. 5% of state workers lack sufficient income to provide for just their own basic needs.

The State is waiting to get back to Unit 4 on their proposed salary adjustment after consulting with the Dept. of Finance. SEIU Local 1000 members stepped up as Subject Matter Experts along with the BUNC to demand a long-overdue increase in their wages.

“They always underestimate Unit 4,” said BUNC member Terry Gray, “but we’re the front line.”

Unit 4’s next meeting with the State to win a contract that Respects Us, Protects Us, and Pays Us is set for May 16. To read about what happened in Monday’s Bargaining Unit 11, 20, and 21 sessions, please visit the Contract Action Center page at seiu1000.org

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