Story Corps

Placeholder Image photo credit: Noah Abrams/KRCB
SEIU 1021 members gathered outside the Board chambers on February 28th.

After six months of negotiations unionized Sonoma County employees with SEIU Local 1021 have approved a new three-year contract.

KRCB spoke with union president Jana Blunt about the agreement.

"It's really great news," Blunt said. "It's the best contract our county's ever seen."

The 2,300-member union, which represents more than half of the county's 4,000 employees, had been without contract since the start of March.

But after the long wait, Blunt said the new agreement is the culmination of a united effort from staff across the departments.

"We were able to provide significant improvements for the people who needed it the most, specifically, our extra health employees, which is kind of what we call the per diem staff," Blunt said. "We got a lot of great wins for them, and then all of the classifications that are making less than the market rate, we were able to get them up to par."

Blunt said bilingual employees also saw big wins in compensation as part of the new contract.

She said union members not only helped to gain wins for under-compensated employees, but helped to push back on an expensive change to the pension plan for a large number of long-standing employees.

"We were the seventh union who was faced with that decision and the first who successfully was able to get it off the table," Blunt said. "And that's one of the reasons I said it was nice we were all willing to stick together; because although they make up about a third of our membership, these are the people that trained the rest of us, the people who have been willing to stick it out."

"We should be valuing them," Blunt said. "Not throwing them to the wayside because they're a smaller group."

The new contract, set for approval by county supervisors on May 9th, includes a 13.5% cost of living adjustment spread over the three-year term.

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