The Year in Review, Part One: How We Stood Strong in the Storm


For all of us, 2020 was a challenging, unforgettable year. In the span of just a few short days in March, our lives at work and at home changed in ways we couldn’t imagine. As a new year dawns, we are still sorting out the implications of the pandemic, having seen and felt the power of Local 1000 and its members throughout the past 12 months.

Increased communications with members

In what seemed like the blink of an eye, nearly 75% of our represented workers found themselves working remotely, a number that continues today as the pandemic rages. Nine months later, these workers are finding new ways to provide the quality, vital state services that all Californians rely on—as Local 1000 has likewise found new ways to stay in touch with members.

In the first three months, we provided critical information with nearly 200 emails sent to members, who in turn responded with record-breaking open rates. Our member-to-member “Purple Text” was another powerful tool used for member outreach, via 18 different campaigns encompassing nearly 350,000 individual messages.

President Yvonne R. Walker also reached out with a weekly video. The “President’s Message,” featuring a mixture of timely news, insight, and words of encouragement, generated tens of thousands of views. At the same time, our president opened our weekly Steward Call to all members to share information and to hear from them; several weeks saw close to 1,000 members join the call. Early on, Governor Gavin Newsom joined in and saluted our members for their response to a changing situation.

Local 1000 also live-streamed a Town Hall, which saw President Walker joined by California Speaker Anthony Rendon. The event was watched live by nearly 900 members who submitted hundreds of questions; later, thousands more watched the recorded version.

Finally, we leveraged our record-breaking email “open rate” and created a digital version of our Union Update newsletter, which reached members across the state quickly and safely and saved our union more than $150,000 in annual costs.

Side Letter negotiations: Mitigating the impact of proposed cuts

On May 27, 2020 we began virtual negotiations with the State under the backdrop of a $54 billion deficit and a request that state workers take a 10 percent cut, forgo raises, and defer other significant contract improvements.

Despite the State’s attempt to cancel our hard-fought contract wins and cut our pay, our Union, through the power and insight of our members and our member-elected, member-led bargaining team, found a better way.

Members didn’t shy away from the challenge; instead, they sent in thousands of ideas on how to save the State money. We met with the State via Zoom and exchanged proposals via email.

In the end, we signed an agreement with members earning 2 PLP days, a $260 healthcare stipend, 3.5% suspension of post-employment benefits contributions, and a 9.23% pay reduction. Our team’s efforts protected the minimum $15/hour pay for our members and preserved our recently won Special Salary Adjustments, differentials, and GeoPay.

Meanwhile, our 2020 general salary increase was deferred to 2022, and we formed a Cost Savings Task Force—a joint effort with the State—with the goal of identifying $200 million in cost reductions that can be redirected to employee compensation for 2021.