SEIU Mourns Members Killed in San Bernardino

by Paul Garver

Ten of the fourteen killed and many of those wounded in the shootings in San Bernardino were County environmental health specialists who were members of SEIU Local 721, which represents public-sector workers in southern California.

The local’s president, Bob Schoonover, noted that its members regularly worked at the Inland Regional Center, the health care facility where the massacre took place. The state facility serves people with developmental disabilities, offering work programs and social services. Employees of the county environmental health department were gathered there for a semi-annual meeting when Farook and Malik opened fire.

The union hosted a candlelight vigil with other labor groups on Monday to mourn the victims.

Mary Kay Henry, the international president of SEIU, said that she’d spoken with union leaders from around the country on Friday and heard “expressions of grief and outpourings of support.”

“The SEIU family suffered a profound and terrible loss Wednesday in San Bernardino,” Henry said. “Our hearts are broken from this tragedy. The victims taken from us too soon leave behind a legacy of lives dedicated to service and a deep commitment to upholding public health.”

Henry added, “We will unite to demand that our nation does everything possible to ensure that no more families have to feel this pain, sadness and loss ever again.”

Refusing to join in anti-Muslim hysteria, SEIU encouraged its members instead to sign a petition organized by health care professionals to demand that Congress allow the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate gun violence. To sign the petition go to

The press gets the story wrong- don’t blame unions

Bankrupt cities? Don’t blame unions

Stockton and San Bernardino, California  were brought down by the most severe housing busts in the nation, and by banks peddling subprime mortgages to poorly paid workers.

Harold Meyerson

By Harold Meyerson.  July 25, 2012

The reporting and commentary on the bankruptcies of California cities over the last month haven’t been journalism’s finest hour. From reading the voluminous accounts of the fiscal woes of Stockton and San Bernardino, you’d think that municipal unions and feckless city officials are primarily what led these cities down the path to fiscal ruin.

But you’d be wrong. What bankrupted Stockton and San Bernardino were the most severe housing busts in the nation. What bankrupted those two cities were banks peddling subprime mortgages to poorly paid workers.

That story has been missing from most accounts of the debacle, which instead focus on the preferred narrative of the right and center-right: that of fiscal irresponsibility and overpaid public employees. “Another city sinks in pension morass,” the Orange County Register editorialized. The problem common to the cities, wrote Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters, is that “elected leaders and appointed managers succumbed to hubris and political pressure, particularly from their employee unions.”

Read the entire op-ed.,0,6443912.story

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San Bernardino’s Ingenious Rescue Plan

A majority of foreclosures and “underwater mortgages” affect working families.  Both the national AFL-CIO and many central labor councils in Atlanta and other cities as well allies like Jobs with Justice and National People’s Action have been active in anti-foreclosure fights.  We believe that this examination of an innovative  plan to use of eminent domain to solve the problem by San Bernardino County, CA will be of interest to union and community activists.–Talking Union

by Lawrence Gulotta

Lawrence Gulotta

San Bernardino County California is the 12th most populous county in the United States with a 2011 population estimate by the US Census Bureau of 2,065,377. The unemployment rate is at a 12 year high (1990-2012) of 11.9%, one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation.

In a story appearing on National Public Radio, July 13, 2012, by Yuki Norguci, entitled, County Considers Eminent Domain As Foreclosure Fix, San Bernardino County was ranked fifth-highest in foreclosures statewide. County executives estimate that half of the county’s 300,000 mortgages are “underwater”. A mortgage is “underwater” or “upside down” when the homeowner owes more on their mortgage than the home is worth. These mortgages have a high likelihood of defaulting—and, eventually being foreclosed upon. While some are in the process of foreclosure, many affected homeowners are still paying their mortgages—with little hope that their homes will every recover in value.

An astonishing 494,000 people are at risk of loosing their homes (150,000 underwater mortgages multiplied by 3.29 persons per household-US Census 2011) in San Bernardino county. This represents 25% of the county’s total population, or one in four people.

An “ingenious rescue plan” has been proposed to rescue homeowners facing potential foreclosure, by San Francisco based property consultants, Mortgage Resolution Partners (“MRP”): have localities buy underwater mortgages using their power of eminent domain—and then write the homeowner a new, reduced mortgage. The initial program activity would focus on those homes which are underwater but current on their payments. Participation would be entirely voluntary.

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