The State Worker

California’s biggest state worker union kicks off contract talks with town halls

California state government’s largest union is holding two dozen town halls over the next two months to hear from its members ahead of contract negotiations with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration.

SEIU Local 1000, which represents about 96,000 state workers, has a contract expiring Jan. 1. The union’s current contract, which started in July 2016, included 4 percent general wage in creases in 2017 and 2018 and a 3.5 percent raise this year. It also required employees to kick in more for their retiree health benefits, following a precedent that Gov. Jerry Brown set with other unions.

The town halls begin with an 11 a.m. meeting March 2 at Armaan’s palace in Elk Grove and will be held all around the state. A schedule may be viewed at seiu1000.org/townhall-schedule.

Attending many of the meetings will be three new vice presidents who were elected last year. Kevin Menager is a new vice president and treasurer, Anita Walls is the vice president of organizing and representation, and Tony Owens is vice president of bargaining. Yvonne Walker, who has been the union’s president for 10 years, was re-elected last year.

“This is the union’s effort to seek the input of the members about what’s important to them in bargaining,” Menager said.

The union represents nine state bargaining units covering a wide range of career fields, including office technicians, auditors, tax collectors, government analysts, nurses, librarians and custodians.

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The town halls are closed to people who aren’t union members.

The coming round of negotiations will be the first since the Supreme Court last year in a 5-4 decision ruled that public employee unions cannot collect fees from workers who do not choose to join them. It weakened labor unions by banning them from charging so-called fair share fees to workers who benefited from contract negotiations but did not want to participate in labor organizations.

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