Labor Union

SEIU Local 521

Location:

SAN JOSE, CA

Tax ID:

20-8192637

Budget (2019):

Revenue: $29,361,482
Expenses: $29,206,542
Assets: $24,053,868

SEIU Local 521 is a chapter of the left-of-center Service Employees International Union (SEIU) that represents approximately 40,000 primarily government workers in collective bargaining in the Bay Area of California. [1] SEIU Local 521 is also one of the founding organizers of Child Care Providers United, a California union coalition seeking to organize childcare workers in California. [2]

In 2019, SEIU Local 521 organized a high-profile strike in Santa Clara County to demand increased wages for government workers. In the lead-up to the strike, SEIU Local 521 encouraged its members to engage in civil disobedience, causing the arrest of 14 SEIU Local 521 members at a single protest in September 2019. [3]

Advocacy

SEIU Local 521 engages in collective bargaining and left-of-center public policy advocacy on behalf of public employees in the California Bay Area. In July 2020, the California State Assembly passed a law which allowed childcare providers to unionize. SEIU Local 521 supported the efforts to unionize and has continued to support Child Care Providers United coalition alongside SEIU Local 99 and United Domestic Workers. [4]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, SEIU Local 521 worked to prevent public employees from being laid off or furloughed. In April 2021, following stalled labor negotiations with Kern County, SEIU Local 521 staged a rally in front of the Kern County Administrative Building. The union demanded that Kern County avoid any employee cuts in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, increase taxpayer-funded services, and increase wages for county employees. [5]

Aside from supporting left-of-center labor efforts, SEIU Local 521 has aligned itself with a broader left-progressive agenda. In July 2020, SEIU Local 521 endorsed former Sunnyvale Mayor Otto Lee for Santa Clara County Supervisor due to his support for a tax on wealthy individuals to be “reinvested in working families and communities of color.” The union claimed that now-Supervisor Lee supported its agenda to create “major socioeconomic change.” [6]

Santa Clara County Strikes

In 2019, the contract between SEIU Local 521 and Santa Clara County expired. During contract renegotiations, the union sought to nearly double members’ salary increases from what the county had offered. The county estimated its offer would cost $625 million over a five-year contract. The union instead demanded raises of nearly double that amount, which would have cost the county $1.5 billion. [7]

In August 2019, SEIU Local 521 voted to strike in October. [8] The union listed the public defender’s offices, the county fleet staff, roads staff, airport staff, and the San Jose Family Resource Center as taking part in the first day of the strike. [9] In addition to wage complaints, SEIU Local 521 alleged that members were striking because the county had created burdensome caseloads for social workers and allowed dangerous conditions at the county intake center for children removed from their homes. SEIU Local 521 also organized to protest the relocation of the San Jose Family Resource Center. [10]

In the weeks leading up to the strike, SEIU Local 521 staged several protests, including one which encouraged civil disobedience. In September 2019, SEIU Local 521 members blocked North King Road to protest the movement of the San Jose Family Resource Center, claiming that the county was actually trying to close the Center entirely, despite its already having announced a new location just three miles away. After refusing to disperse as ordered by the San Jose Police, more than a dozen SEIU Local 521 members were arrested, including chief elected officer of SEIU Local 521 Riko Mendez. [11]

In October, SEIU Local 521 organized a rolling strike which closed only a few county departments each day. On the first day, just 700 employees of the 11,000 represented by SEIU Local 521 in the county went on strike. [12] Workers stopped striking after 10 days in October, and by December, SEIU Local 521 cut off negotiations with Santa Clara County. [13]

In February 2020, SEIU Local 521 threatened another strike if Santa Clara County did not agree to a new contact with increased wages for public employees. Just hours after the strike deadline passed, Santa Clara County reached a deal with SEIU Local 521 in which the county agreed to raise public employee salaries by 3% over four years, in addition to paying employees a lump sum bonus of 3% of their salaries during the eight months in which the contract was under negotiation. [14]

In March 2021, SEIU Local 521 again clashed with Santa Clara County, with the union filing a complaint with the state Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) against Santa Clara County Housing Authority former executive director Katherine Harasz. The complaint alleged that Harasz violated sections of state law governing collective bargaining, claiming that she interfered with Housing Authority employees’ right to freely unionize and prevented them from negotiating in good faith. The complaint alleged that Harasz forced employees to work in-person during the COVID-19 pandemic without consulting SEIU Local 521 and used private agency information to target employees. [15]

Leadership

Riko Mendez is the chief elected officer of SEIU Local 99. Mendez has been a union organizer for his entire career, working to unionize nursing home workers in Los Angeles while still a student at the University of California, Davis. Mendez then became a campus recruiter for the Organizing Institute before joining SEIU Local 715 as a campaign organizer. Before becoming chief elected officer at SEIU Local 521, Mendez worked as political and community organizing director at the local union for 8 years. As of May 2021, Mendez sits on the SEIU International Executive Board. [16]

References

  1. About. Accessed December 5, 2019. http://www.seiu521.org/about/ ^
  2. Kristoffersen, Matt. “California’s Newest Union: 45,000 Childcare Workers to Be Represented in Contract Talks.” The Sacramento Bee, July 27, 2020. https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/the-state-worker/article244519262.html. ^
  3. Hutton, Adam F. “Social Workers Arrested in Fight to Save East San Jose Family Resource Center.” San José Spotlight. San José News Bureau, September 20, 2019. https://sanjosespotlight.com/social-workers-arrested-in-fight-to-save-east-san-jose-family-resource-center/. ^
  4. Kristoffersen, Matt. “California’s Newest Union: 45,000 Childcare Workers to Be Represented in Contract Talks.” The Sacramento Bee, July 27, 2020. https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/the-state-worker/article244519262.html. ^
  5. The Bakersfield Californian. “SEIU Holds Caravan Rally as Contract Negotiations Stall.” Bakersfield.com. The Bakersfield Californian, April 27, 2021. https://www.bakersfield.com/news/seiu-holds-caravan-rally-as-contract-negotiations-stall/article_6c401f72-a6f1-11eb-b6a2-136ed051228d.html. ^
  6. The Fly. “Kansen Chu Loses SEIU 521’s Endorsement to Otto Lee in the Santa Clara County Supes Race.” San Jose Inside, July 24, 2020. https://www.sanjoseinside.com/the-fly/kansen-chu-loses-seiu-521s-endorsement-to-otto-lee-in-the-santa-clara-county-supes-race/. ^
  7. Vo, Thy. “Union: Santa Clara County Employees Begin Rolling Strike That Has No End.” San Jose Mercury News. October 3, 2019. Accessed December 5, 2019. https://www.mercurynews.com/2019/10/02/union-700-santa-clara-county-workers-to-strike-today/ ^
  8. Hutton, Adam F. “Santa Clara County Reaches Last-Minute Deal with Workers to Avoid Strike.” San José Spotlight. San José News Bureau, April 9, 2020. https://sanjosespotlight.com/santa-clara-county-reaches-last-minute-deal-with-workers-to-avoid-strike/. ^
  9. Holtzclaw, Barry. “County Workers Begin Strike, Services Continue.” Morgan Hill Times. October 3, 2019. Accessed December 5, 2019. https://morganhilltimes.com/county-workers-begin-strike-services-continue/ ^
  10. Vo, Thy. “Union: Santa Clara County Employees Begin Rolling Strike That Has No End.” San Jose Mercury News. October 3, 2019. Accessed December 5, 2019. https://www.mercurynews.com/2019/10/02/union-700-santa-clara-county-workers-to-strike-today/ ^
  11. Hutton, Adam F. “Social Workers Arrested in Fight to Save East San Jose Family Resource Center.” San José Spotlight. San José News Bureau, September 20, 2019. https://sanjosespotlight.com/social-workers-arrested-in-fight-to-save-east-san-jose-family-resource-center/. ^
  12. Vo, Thy. “Union: Santa Clara County Employees Begin Rolling Strike That Has No End.” San Jose Mercury News. October 3, 2019. Accessed December 5, 2019. https://www.mercurynews.com/2019/10/02/union-700-santa-clara-county-workers-to-strike-today/ ^
  13. Hutton, Adam F. “Santa Clara County Reaches Last-Minute Deal with Workers to Avoid Strike.” San José Spotlight. San José News Bureau, April 9, 2020. https://sanjosespotlight.com/santa-clara-county-reaches-last-minute-deal-with-workers-to-avoid-strike/. ^
  14. Hutton, Adam F. “Santa Clara County Reaches Last-Minute Deal with Workers to Avoid Strike.” San José Spotlight. San José News Bureau, April 9, 2020. https://sanjosespotlight.com/santa-clara-county-reaches-last-minute-deal-with-workers-to-avoid-strike/. ^
  15. Alaban, Lloyd. “Former Santa Clara County Nonprofit Leader Accused of Bullying Staff.” San José Spotlight. San Jose News Bureau, March 17, 2021. https://sanjosespotlight.com/former-south-bay-nonprofit-leader-accused-of-bullying-staff/. ^
  16. “Riko Mendez, Chief Elected Officer.” SEIU 521. Accessed May 26, 2021. https://www.seiu521.org/who-we-are/rikomendez/. ^

Coalition Memberships

  1. Child Care Providers United
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: November 1, 1943

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2019 Dec Form 990 $29,361,482 $29,206,542 $24,053,868 $9,601,543 N $52,212 $28,862,792 $154,007 $153,354
    2018 Dec Form 990 $30,364,680 $29,426,490 $24,116,989 $9,819,604 N $39,977 $30,110,685 $52,914 $152,884 PDF
    2017 Dec Form 990 $31,190,827 $27,868,674 $15,593,629 $2,234,434 N $199,581 $30,625,543 $26,393 $137,423 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $29,841,729 $27,807,538 $12,829,107 $2,758,685 N $92,871 $29,627,529 $19,262 $156,578
    2015 Dec Form 990 $31,292,720 $30,791,507 $11,066,015 $3,119,997 N $131,626 $31,050,542 $10,366 $126,347 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $32,195,776 $30,034,739 $10,444,850 $3,000,045 N $1,035,048 $31,084,086 $3,022 $0 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $30,101,601 $30,722,101 $8,719,222 $3,435,454 N $100,000 $29,924,113 $3,437 $0 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $29,820,057 $28,523,552 $8,889,633 $2,985,365 N $0 $29,560,392 $9,911 $0 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $30,228,386 $31,017,471 $7,239,610 $3,234,006 N $0 $30,174,343 $12,042 $0 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    SEIU Local 521

    2302 ZANKER RD
    SAN JOSE, CA 95131-1115