Update on union contract negotiations – October 18, 2022

Humane Society Silicon Valley has continued to negotiate with SEIU Local 521 to secure a new collective bargaining agreement for approximately 60 members of our team.  After three additional negotiating sessions, we are pleased that we have achieved tentative agreement on a wage proposal of up to a 17% pay increase between now and September of 2023:

  • Upon Contract Signature: 10% wage increase (8% cost-of-living adjustment + 2% merit adjustment)
  • September 1, 2023: 7% wage increase (5% cost-of-living adjustment + 2% merit adjustment)

We continue to be frustrated at the slow progress since we initiated discussions last March.  We would like to conclude negotiations and get the contract ratified so that we can move forward and give employees the raises they deserve.  At this point, employees have lost 4 full months of pay increases.

While we have come to tentative agreement on wages and other proposals, we have reached an impasse on three SEIU demands:

Union Security – Religious Accommodation for Union Participation:  The current contract allows a religious accommodation for those who do not want to participate in the union based on religious beliefs.  Employee dues can be donated to a non-profit of their choice.  Since the 1970s, it has been law that unions and employers allow for religious accommodations related to the payment of dues.  SEIU has proposed limiting the clause relating to religious accommodations as it relates to the payment of dues.  HSSV opposes this change because the contract must remain in compliance with this law.

Union Access to HSSV Property:  The current contract allows for union access with 24 hours advance notice and when accompanied by a designated HSSV manager.  Union leaders have repeatedly violated this contractual obligation over the course of this negotiation, causing disruption to HSSV staff and operations.  SEIU has now proposed limitless access to HSSV property without any prior notice or management accompaniment.  It is not reasonable or customary for private employers like HSSV to provide unions with full access to its property, especially in workspaces where union leaders could interrupt employees while they are working and potentially create safety concerns.

Offsite Clinic Differential for Medical Staff only:  The current contract provides various differentials for things such as foreign language, late shift, training others, etc.  Offsite clinics for the community are performed during the same hours as work onsite and do not require any different skills or types of work.  Employees are paid for all hours worked including overtime if applicable and are reimbursed for any mileage expenses beyond their normal commute.  SEIU has proposed an additional hourly differential for union medical staff, Vet Assistants and Vet Technicians, to work at offsite clinics.  HSSV focuses on improving wages for all employees, rather than benefiting a small group with no rationale based on skill, work, or time of day.

We are disappointed that SEIU has again elected to delay contract closure for items that do not benefit employees and instead result in pay increases being further delayed.  Continuing to negotiate in good faith, we have proposed mediation as a potential means of breaking the impasse.  Although SEIU did not agree to this in our last meeting, we hope that SEIU will reconsider this option.

 

Update on union contract negotiations – October 4, 2022

Humane Society Silicon Valley remains diligent in our efforts to negotiate with SEIU Local 521 to secure a new collective bargaining agreement for approximately 60 members of our team.

Six months have passed since HSSV notified SEIU of our intention to negotiate, and an agreement has not yet been reached. During this time, we have grown increasingly concerned about SEIU’s slow pace of bargaining and lack of urgency to get a new contract in place.

We are acutely aware that HSSV employees must bear the cost of ongoing delays. Due to the extended length of contract negotiations, some or all of our union employees have:

  • already lost 3 full months of pay increases
  • individually requested raises that they deserve, but cannot receive until a new agreement is reached
  • been forced to leave HSSV and take other jobs, because they could not afford to wait any longer for a pay increase even though they wanted to remain at HSSV

In hopes of breaking the stalemate, HSSV presented a new wage proposal to SEIU on October 3. We are encouraged that, for the first time, SEIU engaged in genuine negotiation of our wage proposal during the meeting. Both sides made compromises which brought us much closer to resolution. Although we have not yet come to a final agreement, both sides are hopeful that we will be able to do so soon.

For transparency, we shared our most recent proposal directly with HSSV employees to ensure they are aware that HSSV has offered a pay increase of up to 17% over two years.

  • Year 1: 10% wage increase (8% cost-of-living adjustment + 2% merit adjustment)
  • Year 2: 7% wage increase (5% cost-of-living adjustment + 2% merit adjustment)

It is our hope that the SEIU negotiating team will solicit feedback from our employees and give them an opportunity to voice their opinion on current bargaining proposals. HSSV continues to negotiate in good faith, and we look forward to further collaborative dialog with SEIU to reach an agreement that mutually benefits HSSV and our employees.

Update on union contract negotiations – August 24, 2022

Humane Society Silicon Valley is a nonprofit, mission-driven organization that serves our community by saving lives and keeping families together.  This work would not be possible without our strong team of 130 talented, passionate employees.  Approximately 60 of these employees are covered by a collective bargaining agreement with SEIU Local 521.

The existing contract between HSSV and SEIU expired on June 30, 2022. The National Labor Relations Board requires HSSV to abide by the terms of this contract until a new agreement is in place, even after the contract has expired. This means that by law, HSSV cannot make any changes to these employees’ compensation until a new collective bargaining agreement has been negotiated.

HSSV gave notice of intent to negotiate the agreement on March 24, more than three months in advance of the contract’s expiration.  We have consistently communicated to our employees and to SEIU that our goal was to increase wages for all employees on July 1.  To meet this goal, a new contract needed to be in place by June 30.  HSSV emphasized our desire to work together with SEIU and make this happen.

SEIU representatives were unavailable to meet with HSSV until May 25, nine weeks after HSSV had initiated the process. At our second negotiations meeting on June 7, HSSV presented a wage proposal for consideration. During the next five meetings, several other issues were discussed, but SEIU did not respond to our wage proposal.  The existing contract expired on June 30.

On August 2, eight weeks after receiving our initial wage proposal, SEIU provided a response.  Hoping to speed up the process, HSSV presented a counterproposal during the same meeting.  SEIU declined to respond during that meeting and as of today, August 24, HSSV has not received a response to this counterproposal.

HSSV has already provided pay raises to our 70 employees who are not covered by the collective bargaining agreement, and we are eager to do so for the remaining 60 members of our team.  We continue to bargain in good faith, and we remain optimistic that a new agreement will be reached as soon as possible.  Until then, HSSV remains legally prohibited from increasing the compensation of our employees who are covered by the collective bargaining agreement.