Minimum Wage, Retiree Health, Revenue Measure Win Big Mixed results in San Jose and Major Win in Oakland

The November election saw the approval of badly needed local revenue measures and long overdue raises for thousands of Bay Area workers.   Local 21 backed candidates won all three City Council seats in Oakland but experienced losses in tight races in San Jose.

New Organizing Approach Yields Results

Local 21 took a decidedly different approach to engaging members in the election. 

In San Jose and Oakland member led campaign committees met to plan and implement a strategy to recruit members.   This initial volunteer recruitment was followed by nearly two dozen site visits by member leaders and staff who spoke directly to almost 450 members about the election, about 1 in 3 members.  As a result, the volunteer base in San Jose more than doubled and these members volunteered an astounding 250 times! Nearly 1 in 4 City of San Jose members stepped up.  In Oakland nearly 1 in 9 members stepped up to volunteer almost 120 times.  To put this in perspective, the CA Labor Federation goal for member participation is 1.25%.  We did 10-20 times that level!

In San Francisco volunteers were recruited through two events, a lunch featuring Assemblyman Tom Ammiano and what was billed as ‘a different kind of union meeting’, “Queens, Cocktails and Campaigns” which featured some of the City’s most popular drag queens.

Revenue, Bonds All Win

A San Francisco bond measure for transportation infrastructure, an Alameda County tax for city and county public works, a safety tax in Oakland and revenues in San Leandro and Richmond all won handily.  They will ensure that services that residents rely on are maintained and in some cases expanded.  The Richmond tax will prevent layoffs and service cuts.

Minimum Wage Measures Lift Thousands from Poverty

Voters in San Francisco (77%) and Oakland (82%) backed minimum wage hikes to $15 in SF and $12.25 in Oakland for 190,000 low wage workers, narrowing the economic inequality that is especially acute in the Bay Area.  The broader efforts were inspired by a similar measure in San Jose in 2013 (also backed by Local 21) and is sure to spread.

City Councils, Mayors and Boards of Supervisors

In an exceptionally close and hard fought race, Supervisor Dave Cortese lost the race for San Jose Mayor by a handful of votes per precinct.  The new Mayor has made some preliminary overtures to city unions, but it remains to be seen whether he will be willing to honestly address the issues facing city workers.  Local 21 is working with the Labor Council and other city unions to maximize outcomes as city retirement issues remain unresolved after devastating losses by the city in court and the state employee relations board.  Raul Peralez won a seat on the City Council while our other two candidates lost.

The focus in Oakland was on three Council seats and L21 candidates were successful in all of them!  In two open seats, members backed Abel Guillien and Annie Campbell Washington.  Guillien won a 4-way race with 52% of the vote and Campbell Washington beat a candidate with strong name recognition.  Local 21 teamed with SEIU 1021, IBEW 1245, the Labor Council, Teamsters, and Police and Fire unions.

In one of the quietest Supervisor races in recent times, all incumbents were re-elected in San Francisco.  Supervisor Malia Cohen fended off the same challengers who ran four years ago, winning 52% of the vote.  We also prevailed in a measure, authored by Supervisor Cohen to ensure retiree health benefits for members of the former redevelopment agency as they transition to permanent city jobs, winning 56% of the vote.

School Boards and Water Districts

Local 21 backed candidates won two school board seats and lost two.  In Berkeley, Josh Daniels won re-election and Shamann Walton won a spot on the San Francisco School Board.  This is just the second time the two school chapters have endorsed.

We were able to help re-elect Santa Clara Valley Water District Board member Dennis Kennedy and replace an incumbent with working family friendly Gary Kamnen.  Challenger Marguerite Young beat a 12 year incumbent for a seat on the East Bay MUD Board to add a pro-environment and pro-labor member.

Assembly, Senate and more…

Our South Bay endorsed candidates for the state legislature Kansen Chu and Bob Wiekowski won while David Campos (SF) and Tim Sbranti (Contra Costa) narrowly lost their races.  All incumbent legislators were re-elected.

We backed South Bay member Pat Showalter for the Mountain View City Council where she placed first!


Campaign by the Numbers

  • 8500 letters to members

  • 6000 reminder calls members to vote

  • 300+ members volunteered

  • 477 number of times they volunteered

  • 550+ meetings with members: 32% of San Jose members, 31% of Oakland members, more than 100 SF members

  • 21 worksite visits