SB County Housing Authority Employees Approve Their First Union Contract
San Bernardino, CA – After nearly two years of fighting for better wages, job protections, and improved on-the-job safety, 55 San Bernardino County Housing Authority office and maintenance employees have ratified their first union contract with Teamsters Local 1932.
Through their solidarity and tenacity, these workers secured immediate wage increases of up to 10% in the first year, protections against unfair evaluations, discipline, and discharge. They improved on-the-job safety, including an allowance to purchase job-appropriate footwear, which was especially important in the Maintenance Department.
The Housing Authority of San Bernardino County is the largest affordable housing provider in San Bernardino County and assists more than 26,000 people, primarily seniors, individuals with disabilities, veterans, and children. Employees understand their work’s importance to the individuals they serve and the broader community.
“Shelter is one of the most basic human needs,” said Noel Chichester, a Housing Service Specialist at the Housing Authority and member of the Teamsters Local 1932 Negotiating Committee. “If you don’t have a home, it creates insecurity and instability that can take years to recover from.”
Employees are hopeful that their new union contract will provide them the security they need to thrive in their work and better serve the community, especially as housing continues to be one of the biggest challenges facing the Inland Empire.
“Throughout contract negotiations, the Housing Authority has agreed to institute policy changes once we’ve agreed to them, prior to the entire contract being in place. So, we’ve seen a lot of change already, which has improved our lives at work and allowed us to serve the community better,” said Chichester.
“I’m so inspired by what this group has accomplished, given all the obstacles and twists and turns over the last 19 months,” said Teamsters Local 1932 Business Agent Natalie Harts. “What this group had to endure has made them stronger, and this first contract is a great foundation to build from.”
When the organizing drive got underway in late 2020, many employees worked from home while COVID-19 lockdowns were still at their peak. As a result, many union meetings, including negotiations with Housing Authority representatives, had to be conducted via video teleconference. And the whole effort may have never gotten underway if one worker hadn’t come across a billboard along the I-10 Freeway that read, “Overworked and Underpaid? Organize a Union.”
“Had that employee not seen that billboard, the conversation about organizing at Housing Authority would have never occurred,” said Harts. “It speaks to the importance of making connections wherever we can. Most workers want the protections, better pay, and improved working conditions that come with being a union member and having a union contract.”
One more procedural hurdle remains before the contract is official. In the public sector, governing boards often must approve contracts before they are legally binding. The Housing Authority is governed by a Board of Commissioners that meets monthly. The Board is expected to approve the agreement on August 9th.
With over 14,000 members, the goal of Teamsters Local 1932 is to provide the best possible service to all our members with integrity and equality; to advance the social, economic, and educational welfare of the membership; to promote professional working relationships and fair play between members and management alike, and to positively contribute to the communities we serve and live in.
READ THE SAN BERNARDINO SUN NEWS COVERAGE HERE: https://www.sbsun.com/2022/07/18/san-bernardino-county-workers-ratify-first-union-contract/