SEIU 721 members are well on their way to saving the LAHSA contract with the City of L.A.
What began as self-promoting opinion pieces and council motions by a select group of L.A. Councilmembers for the City to withdraw from LAHSA, snowballed into an alarming commitment by the City to only fund 3 months of LAHSA services in the 2021-2022 Fiscal Budget. The extremely short-term funding would have ultimately placed many positions in jeopardy, and have a serious impact on our unhoused clients and neighbors.
That was until SEIU 721 members sprung action and began doing the lobbying work to move the City to fund the whole fiscal year.
Over the past few weeks, various LAHSA SEIU 721 members and SEIU 721 staff met with numerous City Councilmembers and their top staff to educate them on the transformative work that LAHSA workers do. LAHSA SEIU 721 members like Steven Elias and Derrick Estifanos shared with the elected leaders stories about the unhoused people they’ve helped in their district, and their professional experiences with unhoused clients.
They made it very clear that dissolving the relationship with LAHSA is not the solution to make a lasting impact on unhoused crisis, and they offered ideas on how to better provide services in the City of L.A.
“We were able to share with Councilmember President Nury Martinez about the successes we’ve had with encampments in her very own 6th Council District,” said LAHSA HET worker and SEIU 721 Bargaining Team member Steven Elias.
In particular, we shared how my partner Derrick Estifanos and I successfully placed a group of 20 unhoused people in Project Roomkey rooms. Martinez was appreciative of our frontline work, and expressed that she was unaware of this encampment situation. We also shared that we didn’t stop there – Derrick brought his own trash bags and helped clean up the whole area around the encampment.”
These meetings made it abundantly clear that all City Councilmembers support the invaluable work that LAHSA frontline staff carry out daily. They expressed this many times.
On top of that, most of the leaders that SEIU 721 members met, committed to continue working with them and to fund LAHSA through June 30, 2022. The City will also begin piloting a “Street Engagement Strategy,” that will use 17 City-funded HETs for this effort. LAHSA frontline workers are expected to have a greater voice in this work and will be critical to its success.
The commitment to fully fund the 2021-2022 fiscal year cleared its first hurdle on August 12th when the L.A. City Council’s Homelessness and Poverty Committee voted 3 to 1 on a motion to extend the funding for a full-year, and the 17 engagement positions.
The motion now heads to the full L.A. City Council on September 3rd where it will be voted on by the entire 15-member council, and is expected to pass.
This is the union difference. When LAHSA SEIU 721 members use their powerful union voice, and speak out in defense of our unhoused population, and for much-needed funding, policymakers listen.
We came through to win for LAHSA, and now it’s time for LAHSA management to do right by members and bargain a contract that invests in frontline workers and the vital services we provide.
That’s why now more than ever it remains critical that you get engaged in your union and remain united to win a great and fair contract that LAHSA members deserve.
Stay tuned more updates on L.A. City funding and our on-going contract negotiations.