CSU Employees Union

CSUEU Chico Chapter 302

President's Corner: Unity Now

On the Path to Power

Dear Union Family,

This past week, I had the pleasure of traveling down to Los Angeles to attend SEIU-UHW’s Bargaining Summit. Over a thousand union member leaders assembled at the famous Westin Bonaventure for this three-day event. I, along with nine other CSUEU leaders, including our own Jessica Westbay, were invited as guests of the president to see how UHW leads the pack in union organizing and bargaining. To say the least, it was overwhelming. We were welcomed with open arms as we attended the first day with an opening session performance of taiko drummers, followed by valuable sessions where the focus was on one thing only, being #United4All.

As we attended each session, we heard the countless stories of workers being forced to work during the pandemic, insufficient PPE supplies, no additional compensation for the essential work they were performing, and staffing shortages paired with a lack of retention. It hit close to home. Yet, here they were, all union members, with day jobs, leading their organization for a better tomorrow, not because of what they faced in the past – but because of what they face in the future. Employers have only gotten wealthier and more powerful, inflation has gone up 8.5%, and like CSUEU members – their biggest challenges (AND biggest opportunities) are in 2023 and 2024. From the custodian at Enloe Medical Center to a Respiratory Therapist at Cedar Sinai Medical Center – all member leaders, all united for one common goal; to have fair and equitable wages for the work they do. Keeping with that theme of the day, we closed out with a panel, hosting Amazon Labor Union (ALU) leaders and hearing their stories of how when we fight, we win!

On day 2 of meetings and plenary to discuss bargaining priorities and having healthy discussions about what their members cared about the most, we had the opportunity to put on our sneakers, fill our water bottles, and hit the streets of LA. In a historic victory, UHW had successfully campaigned and won not only in Los Angeles but in Long Beach, Monterey Park, and Downey a $25 minimum wage for ALL healthcare workers, not just their members. And much like the CSU, the boss was not ok with that. California Hospital Association launched a massive misinformation campaign and collected signatures to halt this new minimum wage initiative (much like the CSU and its managers are doing right now for SB 410). So, in typical union fashion, they marched on the boss. All of us from CSUEU, hit the streets with them, thunder sticks in hand, picket signs, and a drum line at the front of the march, leading the way.

Entering the last day of the summit, the energy, one would think would be a little mellowed out, especially after all of the work that had been completed the past two days, but on the contrary, it was amped up! The unity, the support, the power – it was profound. They are ready to tackle the next challenge, bargaining all of their contracts these upcoming two years, all 30 unique contracts, at 154 hospitals and clinics, representing 100k+ employees. Even after all of the work, workshops, and discussions about what they need to focus on, we were welcomed to share our CSU story and the fight we are in with SB 410 right now. We got up there and asked them for their support. Lo and behold, within the minute, the emails started pouring into Gov. Newsom. That is union solidarity. That is the power of the people.

After a delayed flight and long drive home, trying to maintain the high of being around such a strong and united fellow union, ten Chico members joined me at the Capitol on Monday, Sept 12. Teamsters were there and APC was as well. We rallied and marched to the governor's office and yelled in solidarity, "Sign the bill!" and "If we don't get it? Shut it down!" 

And in a home run attempt on the 14th, our Jessica Westbay went down to Long Beach and spoke at the Board of Trustees meeting, spitting out nothing but facts: "The CSU is sitting on $6 BILLION in investments right now…you call it your rainy day fund but it’s been raining on staff for years. Thousands of your workers earn less than $25 an hour, there’s racial and gender salary disparity, and salaries under market. We worked together on the salary study, you know the answer, YOU need to be accountable to correct the salary problems YOU created."

I share all of this to show that we are not alone nor are we silent in our struggles when it comes to dealing with a greedy boss. The CSU has failed to fulfill its mission. The CSU leaders that we look up to and entrust with advocating on our behalf, have failed. For too long, we have had to endure this university system of forced poverty on our fellow students, staff, and faculty. There are only two constants in the CSU, the greed of management, and the power of the worker.

YOU, all of us, united, fighting to balance the status quo. Whether you are a member or not, YOU… We… are the CSU!

This next year, as we approach our right to reopen negotiations on salaries, or in 2024 as we join our brothers and sisters: Teamsters, APC, CFA, UAPD, and SUPA, at the bargaining table to fight for our contracts, one thing will be for sure – management will fail and we will hold the power and we will shut it all down if we need to.  

#United4All is what UHW members are doing RIGHT NOW to consolidate their power to WIN in the next two years. Our unity is our power. If we are serious about winning – we have to be serious about unity across campuses and bargaining units - RIGHT NOW!

Join me as we lend a hand to our fellow non-members
and show them what solidarity feels like.
Join me as we increase our political power and show the state
what public-sector workers can do.
Join me as we welcome those without a union, and grow our organization.
Join me, and together we will embark on the Path to Power!

Fighting for Our Rights to Steps!

CSUEU at the State Capitol

Joining more than 100 CSUEU members from our sister campuses, 10 Chico members, representing employees from the Wildcat Health Center (Unit 2) to the Registrar's Office (Unit 9), rallied with Teamsters Local 2010 September 12 to urge Gov. Newsom to sign the SB 410! This was just one of many opportunities we have made our (and your) voices heard at the governor's office. Our email campaign is still underway, so if you have not yet sent an email to Gov. Gavin Newsom, please do so now(opens in new window)

Need inspiration? Watch this!