Hundreds of union members poured out in front of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors’ chambers Wednesday within the blistering warmth, rallying for an growth in wages and services for county employees because the supervisors internal deliberated on next year’s investment priorities at some point of a price range hearing.
Union leaders from SEIU Local 521 encouraged for a extra “transparent” budgeting technique that provides “essential services” meant to assist cover the cost of basic living wishes, such as housing and toddler care, in one of the u . S .’s maximum highly-priced regions.
“People are simply suffering,” said Riko Mendez, leader elected officer for SEIU, Local 521. “There’s a manner for us to make an impact with our proposals around housing and for actual, inexpensive child care. We’re asking that the county take our proposals seriously.”
Mendez stated that the union is offering $2 million a month from the budget to create an low priced healthcare fund that the community ought to access — irrespective of an man or woman’s profits — to assist pay for infant care services. In addition, union leaders are stressful an growth in people’ wages.
The crowd — as many as 800 humans in keeping with SEIU’s signal-in sheet — cheered as community leaders chanted slogans which include “Si Se Puede” even as people held signs that study, “We want to stay wherein we paintings” and “Fair agreement now.” Several workers shared stories approximately how their modern pay has undermined their capability to live housed, feed their families or assist their youngsters.
County officials and union representatives are inside the midst of negotiating a brand new agreement. The closing date to finalize negotiations is Sunday. If no settlement is reached, as a minimum 11,000 workers represented by using SEIU, Local 521 within the Bay Area vicinity and in the Central Valley could be with out a agreement.
“When I came to the county, I had to make first-rate sacrifices, and one among them is toddler care,” stated Lilia Jacobo, 40, a senior healthcare consultant and unmarried mom to a son with special needs. “My son turned into diagnosed with autism, global developmental put off, and he also suffers from seizures. Trying to discover affordable toddler care became a need.”
Jacobo stated that her dad had to retire early to help with in-domestic take care of her son, at the same time as she was at paintings due to the fact she couldn’t manage to pay for the $12,000 a 12 months in infant care expenses. After taxes, Jacobo said she earns round $fifty five,000, less than common earnings for union individuals in the county, estimated round $68,804, in keeping with a SEIU file.
“This economy inside the heart of Santa Clara County is so highly-priced. The county needs to do something positive about that,” delivered Jacobo. “The Board of Supervisors sit quite, all making over $100,000. They’re no longer involved. Well, let me transfer my burdens over to their domestic on the way to move domestic at night time and inform their children, ‘I can’t come up with that.’ They have no concept what we go through.”
But county officials are weighing greater than just a pay bump for workers. The nearly $8.1 billion budget is ready to cover the expenses of the merger of O’Connor and St. Louise Hospitals into the county health machine, criminal justice reform, a new juvenile and mental health facility — pinnacle priorities for the next 12 months.
The main attention for the yr, according to County Executive Jeff Smith, is to prioritize constructing and keeping present programs as opposed to pumping money into new initiatives — based totally on the expectation that the economic system will dip.
“During ordinary instances in California, counties expect an financial cycle of about a decade. Current instances are whatever but regular,” Smith said in a announcement. “Although California and the Silicon Valley are, via nature, highly blanketed from the national dangers, the reminiscence of the 2008 recession hangs over our heads. We had been cautious to simplest recommend increase that we have been confident that we ought to have enough money.”
Still, union leaders are pushing again towards the concept that the economic system is on a downturn. In a file conducted with the aid of SEIU, the union said the county’s price range has been off by means of at the least $1 billion over the past 5 years.
“It’s clean that the county has a long pattern of underneath-budgeting their revenues and over-budgeting their charges,” stated a file from SEIU. “This efficaciously denies Santa Clara County citizens and employees the risk to benefit an correct expertise of the real budget projections.”
While the wage contract is at the heart of the talk, Mendez stated the rally turned into additionally approximately offering a pathway to housing and social services that offers the complete community a place to stay. “Working elegance human beings” are suffering to make ends meet with the salaries they’ve, Mendez brought, and the place’s growing fee-of-living pushes them to live at the streets or of their cars, go back and forth from farther distances, and pay exorbitant quantities in child care charges.
Many of the union participants are clerical or social employees, provider employees, nurses and healthcare people.
If a deal between the union and county leaders isn’t reached by way of Sunday, the prevailing contract may be extended to shop for more time, or the county’s workers may go on strike. The county’s modern provide is a 1 percent salary boom for SEIU workers, a salary cut in keeping with hard work leaders when adjusted for inflation. SEIU is inquiring for a 9 percent fashionable wage boom. Several SEIU workers at the rally stated anything underneath a 5 percentage increase become “insulting.”
If a worthwhile compromise isn’t reached, Mendez said the county supervisors may be “in for the fight of their lives.”
“Organized labor is the last bastion of preserving company interests from taking on the whole financial system,” he stated. “The disparity among the wealthy and terrible is wider than it’s ever been. People operating collectively and unionizing is honestly the simplest way to counterbalance that and provide a better place for everybody.”