Welcome to SEIU Local 99!

We are the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 99 and we are Education Workers United!

As a member, you are part of a long and proud history of workers in education striving to create a better future for all children, students, and families we serve – and for ourselves, through the strength of our unity. We are truly are stronger together!

Consider donating to our Committee on Political Education (COPE) Fund. Our COPE Fund strengthens our voice in politics and policymaking, and is an investment in a better future for ourselves and good jobs. Learn more about COPE and what we’ve won with it.

To get fully acquainted with SEIU Local 99 and your union membership, we recommend you go through each section listed on the right (below on mobile).

You may also have basic questions about your membership. Browse the Quick Guide below to see answers to some commonly asked questions.

In Solidarity,
Your SEIU Local 99 Executive Board

Quick Guide

The Basics

A union is made up of people who work together—either in the same industry, workplace—and have the right to bargain as a group (a.k.a. collective bargaining) with their employer. In the case of self-employed family child care providers, the ’employer’ is the State of California.

When workers come together to form a union, they change the basic power relationship at work and gain the power to negotiate wages, benefits and working conditions with their employer on behalf of everyone within a bargaining unit. The employer cannot make unilateral changes to our wages, benefits and working conditions unless they are negotiated with our union. The terms of our contract are protected by labor law.

When the union negotiates a contract, workers in the same bargaining unit decide what kinds of things could be improved and make proposals to the employer. Before bargaining begins, members work with their elected bargaining team to determine the priorities for the contract. The employer is legally obligated to negotiate in good faith.

How are things different for non-union employees? In workplaces without unions, employees don’t have collective bargaining or representation. Without a united workforce or a union contract, employers can change the pay and working conditions at any time. Any benefits workers receive are at the discretion of the employer. Individual workers are free to negotiate for anything in their contract, such as their pay, but if the employer says ‘no’ to any of their proposals, there’s not much that can be done.

Want to learn more about what unions do? Check this out.

Being a union member means you’re united and active with many other workers who do similar work or who work for the same employer. It means you work together to win wage increases, improvements to your working conditions, and the services you provide to students and families. Your union membership is not transactional. It’s not like a gym membership or Netflix subscription. In other words, union dues aren’t what you pay in exchange for a product or service.

Although, like a church or business, it still takes money to run a union. Union dues pay for the work that is done to build our power at the bargaining table and in the workplace, and for political advocacy, such as supporting the passage of legislative bills that increase education funding. This work takes a team of dedicated professionals, including organizers, member representatives, communicators and attorneys who guide, train, educate, and inform members in negotiations, grievances, arbitration, and workplace leadership.

What does it mean to be a member? Membership is an act and statement of solidarity with other people in your workplace or industry. It is saying: “We are one unit and have each other’s backs.”

Membership has one functional purpose: collective power. What is collective power? Think about it this way …

Here you have a stick by itself and you have many sticks bundled together. Which one is stronger, almost unbreakable? Which is weaker?

In a workplace or industry, when everyone is part of a union, the workers possess a power that directly counteracts the power of management. And our employers—by law—must negotiate with our union in collective bargaining. How good the contract ends up being is entirely dependent on the membership numbers and the level of member participation in a contract campaign.

Going back to the bundle of sticks – if more and more sticks separate from the bundle, it wouldn’t be as strong anymore, right? Now, imagine what it means for our contracts and our livelihoods when members are too few, when workers choose the lone and selfish path of disunity? First: you’d have a union with fewer resources to effectively organize workers and build power; second: the employer, seeing how small the membership is, wouldn’t feel pressured to give in on our proposals – and the bargaining team wouldn’t have enough leverage to counter theirs. In order for us to get what we want in a contract or when addressing a work site issue, the employer must see that we have strength in numbers and we’re ready to take action.

Collective power through unity is a tangible thing—it’s how we’ve lifted ourselves and our families up, defended what we have, and will keep bargaining for more.

“Collective bargaining” means that we, using the strength of our numbers, sit down with our employer to negotiate our job contract—including our pay, benefits, hours, holidays, sick leave, staffing, seniority and working conditions. Each contract reflects the specific conditions, history, and priorities of the members. Collective bargaining is the only real way that workers can have any say in our jobs. It is a basic worker right that has been under attack by anti-union groups since its inception.

The simple phrase—collective bargaining—covers a wide variety of subjects and involves thousands of union members in the process.

A bargaining team made-up of union members elected by their peers, negotiate over wages and benefits, hours and working conditions. The settlement reached is spelled out in a written document or contract. The contract normally contains a grievance procedure to settle disputes. And after the contract is negotiated, stewards, other member leaders, and staff organizers work together to enforce it.

See the Member-Only Perks and Benefits page under AFL-CIO of LA County Hardship Assistance for Union Members.

Member dues are 2.12% of your gross pay.

Staying Informed

Your contract spells out guarantees and protections that impact you on the job. Read your bargaining units contract at seiu99.org/contract. There are also many local, state and federal laws that may impact you. See the Know Your Rights page for a listing of some of these laws.

There are a several ways:

  1. Visit this website regularly. SEIU99.org will contain the most current and comprehensive source of information.
  2. Like the Official Local 99 Facebook Community Page. We don’t post everything there, but we often post major announcements and other information impacting members.
  3. Attend our quarterly Industry Division Meetings (IDM) where members from all SEIU Local 99 industry divisions convene to get updates and have discussion on a variety of issues concerning their jobs and workplaces. Member leaders, stewards, and SEIU Local 99 reps and other staff are present at this meeting. See our Calendar for the next meeting.
  4. Subscribe to our email notifications. Click or tap here.
  5. Speak to your shop steward (school employees only), if you have one. You can find out who your steward is here. Note that some stewards may not be up-to-date themselves.
  6. Check out the SEIU Local 99 Bulletin Board at your work site. Note that your steward is typically responsible for maintaining the bulletin board. It may or may not be up-to-date.

If you believe that your contract is being violated or have a question about your job, please go to our Help page.

Many of our contracts also establish Labor Management Committees that allow members from specific job classifications to meet and address issues directly with managers. By completing a Member Resource Center Inquiry Form, you may be directed to a Labor Management Committee that will help you address your issue.

Building Union Strength

When some workers think of participating in their union’s activities, they often think of strikes, rallies and other kinds of public demonstrations as the extent of participation.

Public demonstrations are just one form of participation. They’re infrequent and as strikes go – pretty rare. But, because public demonstrations usually have visibility in the streets and in the media, many people assume that’s all unions do.

The reality is union participation happens mostly in the workplace, in our communities, at the union hall and online, and includes, but isn’t limited to:

  • Informing and educating yourself and your peers on the issues that affect us, our communities, and the people we serve
  • Taking a leadership role in your union (becoming a steward, sitting on a labor management committee, etc.)
  • Organizing
  • Taking action and mobilizing to action
  • Voting in union elections and elections where we’ve endorsed a candidate

In other words, participation is all the things we do—big and small, individually and collectively—that contribute to building our union’s power.

Why is participation so important to union strength? Because it is directly tied to our ability to negotiate good contracts, to defend what we currently have in our contracts, to influence the outcome of legislative bills that help us, to elect allies on school boards and other offices, and much more.

It isn’t enough to just be a member. It’s not even enough to just pay dues. Our union gives us a powerful platform to improve our livelihoods and improve education, but we’ll only achieve these things if we step-up and use it.

Public education is funded by local, state and federal governments. That means as education workers, what we do is directly affected by policy decisions.

The school board members we elect vote on our contracts. State leaders decide on the education budget, how much money goes to local school districts and agencies, and the compensation rates of child care providers. Federal officials decide on funding for school transportation, special education, lunch programs, child care services, Head Start, and so much more.

That’s why having a strong voice in politics is critical to our jobs, and the well-being of our communities. In addition to voting and mobilizing others to vote, we make our voices heard in politics by contributing to SEIU Local 99’s voluntary Committee on Political Education Fund (COPE).

COPE gives our union the resources to move voters and decision-makers in office—especially as part of legislative or election campaigns—in order to help us all move forward.

Why should members contribute to COPE? It takes money to run an effective political campaign, especially when faced with opposition that’s backed by wealthy and big corporate donors. You may feel like your donation isn’t going to make a difference and you’d rather save it, but when pooled with thousands of other members, it ends up making a significant difference in important things, like how many voters we were able to reach and persuade.

Learn more about how our COPE Fund works, examples of major gains where the fund was critical, and sign-up to contribute at seiu99.org/COPE.

In the world of labor, a campaign is any concerted effort—usually led by union leaders—to gain something for workers or change something that affects them. Campaigns can last three months or they can last three years. The duration depends on the type of campaign and often times, on our collective efforts to influence decision-makers. Decision-makers could be voters, they could be members of a school board, a governor, and any one who makes decisions on something we want.

These are some (and certainly not the only) types of campaigns:

  • Contract campaign – These are campaigns to support the work of a bargaining team during contract bargaining with an employer.
  • Legislative campaign – These are campaigns to support the passage of legislation that benefits workers.
  • Election campaign – These are campaigns to help a candidate our union has endorsed win for a particular office.
  • Organizing campaign – These are campaigns to organize new workers into the union or to help workers form a union.
  • Boss campaign – These are campaigns to inoculate workers against the tactics of an employer to bust union organizing efforts.

Ways to get involved in Local 99’s campaigns

Member involvement is vital to the successful outcome of a campaign. SEIU Local 99 will always send out communications to members and publicize any campaign actions our union will be doing. Participate in those actions—whether those actions are at your workplace or in a mass rally.

If you can’t participate, mobilize your fellow members to join. It’s as simple as spreading the word.

Our campaign page will always have the latest updates and actions you can take. Be sure to subscribe to text and email notifications.

Check out your Workplace page updates for ongoing contract campaign news or our main News feed for other campaigns. In the future, we will have a permanent page to share all our ongoing campaigns.