The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) finds itself in a difficult position. Earlier this year, they promised members a twenty-two percent across the board pay raise for all California state workers that they represent—which is 95,000 of them. Negotiators for the State countered with a ten percent raise over the same period—four years. Then to add insult to injury, the Governor signed the budget without any pay increase for state employees.
The SEIU and other unions fought hard for the fifty percent increase in the minimum wage ($15 per hour) figuring that their members would get a proportional boost in pay. Oh, as a side benefit, the unions also get a boost in the loot they collect in the form of increased dues.
Just so you know, a twenty-two percent increase in worker pay is still less than a five dollar an hour increase for state workers in the bottom rungs of the pay ladder.
Unfortunately for them, the unions are finding themselves left out in the cold with nothing to show their members after working to devalue their pay.
The SEIU stopped negotiating for a new contract in June. There is currently no contract in place. In July, they held a series of townhall meetings to explain their negotiating position and the state offer. Now the SEIU is boxed into the proverbial corner. They made a promise to members but have no face-saving way to move forward. Logically their next step should be a call for a strike authorization vote in August; however, this will put a looming state worker strike front and center in the public eye just in time for the Presidential Election season.
The union needs a strike authorization to get a better deal from the state but doing so would elevate this process to one of national consequences. The political blowback on the Democrat politicians that they worked so hard to elect will get really ugly.
I think the union severely miscalculated and has no good way forward. With 94 million less people in the workforce now than when Barack Obama took office, they will not get much sympathy from the general public. From a political point of view, their timing is horrible. Their endorsed candidate Hillary Clinton will be hurt if this thing blows-up like I think it will.