Issued May 07, 2019
Today, SEIU released the following statement on the outcome of its efforts to come to an agreement over a new contract with its unionized headquarters-based staff represented by the Office and Professional Employees Union (OPEIU) Local 2. The following statement is attributable to SEIU spokeswoman Sahar Wali:
“Joining together in unions gives working people the ability to fight for good jobs and to restore balance to an economy and democracy that benefit corporations over working people. SEIU fights every day for our members and for all working people to have better wages and the ability to join a union, no matter where they work. As a union and an employer, SEIU wholeheartedly respects and supports the ability of our employees to join together through their union to negotiate the terms and conditions of their work. On behalf of SEIU members, we must serve as responsible stewards of our members’ resources and maintain their ability to fight for a better life through their union. To do this, we must ensure that any contract we enter into is in the best interest of our members and allows our union to act nimbly and effectively in the face of unprecedented attacks.
Our goal going into and throughout bargaining and mediation has always been to come to agreement by offering our OPEIU-represented staff the kind of benefits SEIU members fight for every day. For eight months, we worked in good faith and were hopeful that we would reach an agreement. Despite working for almost a year at the table with OPEIU Local 2 to deliver improvements to their contract and despite our additional offers in mediation to move that contract even further, OPEIU Local 2’s bargaining committee has rejected a path to settlement that included the kind of provisions that our members fight for in their contracts, and that not-yet-union workers can only dream of. We absolutely respect their right to do this. Today, we issued a revised last, best, and final offer to OPEIU Local 2 which includes improvements to the contract that were discussed in mediation. It is our hope that OPEIU Local 2 will fully present this offer to its members, and that Local 2 members will, if given the opportunity, move to ratify this contract.
Our members need us to continue the important work we do on their behalf by moving forward. No union is immune to the unprecedented attacks on working people. When public sector workers were attacked through the Janus Supreme Court decision, SEIU had to adjust our resources and organization to secure the ability of our members to fight back. At the same time that we were doing this, we committed to a robust and lengthy process at the bargaining table with our staff to ensure that they could get the better pay, healthcare and working conditions. We are a union that is also an employer who believes wholeheartedly in the power and importance of collective bargaining and sitting across the table with our employees to come to the best agreement that we can. The very nature of this give-and-take process means that there will be times when bargaining may not result in an agreement, especially when what we see as best for our members does not match certain demands made by unionized staff.
In a time of heightened attack on working people, we are proud to have been able to offer our staff a contract with such robust provisions without demanding any major concessions on their behalf. Our offer would improve their wages by 8% over the course of the contract, ensure that all current staff enjoy lifetime job security upon five years of service, improve even further upon their already fully-paid healthcare and pensions, extend fully-paid parental leave from 8 to 12 weeks, provide life insurance, and establish a program that would contribute to paying down their student debt.
SEIU and both of the unions that represent our staff, including OPEIU, are all part of the same broader movement to fight the attacks on unions and improve working people’s lives. For all of us to win in this fight, SEIU will remain focused on standing shoulder to shoulder with all of our brothers and sisters across labor and will always rise above engaging in perpetuating false accusatory vitriol that tries to divide us. Together, we can win back an economy and democracy that are balanced for all working people.”