San Antonio

SEIU members in San Antonio are employed by the City of San Antonio and Bexar County. The work we do affects all of us because it’s about providing services that matters to our community.

SEIU members provide quality drinking water, maintain the streets, keep our streets safe, maintain the libraries and parks, and protect our communities’ most vulnerable members.

We are not alone. Along with public employees and other workers across our state, we are achieving what we cannot accomplish alone to become a powerful voice for working families in Texas.

We are part of a national movement for justice. SEIU Local 5 is a diverse, member driven organization and part of SEIU. The Service Employees International Union is 2.1 million members united by the belief in the dignity and worth of workers and the services they provide. SEIU is dedicated to improving the lives of workers and their families and creating a more just and humane society.

Let There Be Light on SA’s West Side

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San Antonio Residents Calling for Street Lights on West Side Dominate Final City Council Budget Hearing

IMG_0606 Last night, SEIU Texas members and our neighbors, made a final plea for $3 million to be allocated in the 2014-2015 for streetlights on the west side. Residents from across the city stood together to call on city council to invest in lights so that our west side neighbors would gain some safety after the sun sets.

“All San Antonio residents should feel safe on their own street,” said Guadalupe Espinoza when she spoke to city council at the hearing. “The west side has been left behind. The children cannot even play. We need light.”

Over 25 people spoke to City officials yesterday. Some spoke individually, while others stood with SEIU or our partner, Texas Organizing Project, to emphasis the need for light, as well as the affordability of our ask.

I know the money is there,” said Buddy Villejo, SEIU Texas member and city employee.

According to City records, over the last ten years, the City of San Antonio has underestimated revenues and overestimated expenses by an average of $52.6 million per year. Expenditures have been overestimated by an averageIMG_0662 of $21.5 million per year while revenue has been underestimated at an average of $31.1 million per year.

Villejo added: “While it is wise to budget cautiously –– the city should not act as if it does not have revenues it actually has. The residents of San Antonio deserve better. We should not have to live in fear because our streets don’t have working lights when the city is has an average over $50 million more than projected each year.”

The $3 million SEIU Texas and our neighbors are asking for would retrofit 6,000 lights based on an average cost of $500 per light. This number is based on what other cities across the nation have spent on similar projects. In Las Vegas, 42,000 new LED streetlights were installed in 2013, at a cost of $20.8 million. That’s roughly $495 per light. With reduced energy costs and longer lifespans, the city expects payback in seven to ten years. In 2010, Boston replaced 25,000 lights at $6.8 million, roughly $265 per light (and the city workers proved cheaper and faster than contractors).

In 2012, San Antonio spent $14 million on 25,000 new LED streetlights. This equaled about $560 per light, fully installed.

New installations, which would include poles and wiring from the street location to the power source would be more costly.

When the last speaker at the hearing made his way to the podium, he turned to face the crowd and pointed to everyone wearing purple and blue shirts and said that, while he was here for another issue, he too supported the call for more lighting on the west side. He turned to city council and said that the speakers at the hearing had grabbed his attention and he hoped that city council was paying attention too.

Miss last night?  YOU can still take action.  Call your city council member and tell them you support $3 million for streetlights on the west side.

This is our city; this is our budget. We’re all in this together. Check out the news coverage from Fox 29 and Univision 41.

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Change Happens When Citizens Come Together

When the citizens of San Antonio come together and demand quality services they deserve, change happen.  When the city manager released the proposed budget just a couple weeks ago, there was a major shift in what was included compared to what they spoke about at the initial budget hearings. This proposed budget includes a plan to better our streets and sidewalks, maintain and improve district libraries and  parks, and better compensate our public workers so they can provide quality public services.

CAM00752So, when SEIU Texas members, community allies, and our neighbors met for our Monthly Café Con Pan Dulce we gave each other a pat on the back because our voices were being heard due to all our hard work.  However, after the cheers, we sat down and talked about how we still have a lot of work ahead of us since the $300,000 the city allocated for west side streetlights isn’t going to go very far. Currently, the proposed budget calls for only one tenth of what it would take to put in approximately 45 blocks of lighting.

Members decided more action was necessary to win a budget that truly reflects the concerns of all residents. We continue to call for $3 million to be used for residential streetlights on the west side.

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In addition, SEIU Texas was proud to officially recognize and welcome Mr. Pinguino’s Raspa’s as an official “We’re All In This Together” business partner. Jerry and Billy, the owner and manager, have been gracious hosts for the last 3 Cafe’s and support increased public services in the city budget for the west side.  They understand the effects quality services have not only on their clients but on their business too.

You too can get involved:

  1. Sign up now to make your voice heard.
  2. Attend our press conference and the city’s final budget hearing on September 10.
  3. Call your city council member and let them know you want to see the west side to see the light and hope to see $3 million allocated for their streetlights.

We’re All In This Together!

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San Antonio Residents Light Up the Night!

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Juanita Elizondo speaking at vigil

Two nights ago, I joined 55 SEIU Texas members, their neighbors and community allies to Light Up The Night on San Antonio’s west side.  With lit candles, we walked the dark streets to highlight the need for streetlights and other quality public services.

I’ve lived on South Nueces Street for over 40 years and for the majority of those years, my street has been dark. This is problematic.  You see, not too long ago, my car was stolen from right in front of my house. I truly believe that if my street were better lit, this would not have happened. It isn’t just about the huge economical stress it put on me and my family; it’s also dealing with sense that your street is no longer safe. What would have happened, in the dark, if someone had tried to stop the thieves?IMG_9222

San Antonio residents deserve better than this.  We deserve to live in safety.  Those of us on the west side deserve the same quality services and infrastructure as those on the north side and those on the east side.  This is why I joined the We’re All In This Together team.

As a united group, we have more power when we call on city council for the things that matter most to us.  Together, we can see $3 million allocated toward new and improved lighting. That $3 million would light up about 45 blocks.

Together, along with our community allies, like the Caesar Chavez Education and Legacy Fund, Texas worker alliance, Fuerza Unida, Domesticas Unidas, and councilwoman Shirley Gonzales, who stood with us at the vigil, we can light up San Antonio’s west side with more than candles.

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Attendees gathered to listen to speakers talk about need for lights

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SEIU Texas members light each other candles before the walk.

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Mid-vigil – candles blew out because of wind – those are some dark streets!

 

Learn more! Sign up for updates and attend our next event!

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Yes to Quality Public Services

Last week, the city held budget hearings across San Antonio.

photo (17)SEIU Texas members and our neighbors were in attendance at every hearing to make sure resident priorities were considered as the city puts together its budget. Members came out to call on city leaders to make San Antonio a better place to live and work by increasing funding to improve San Antonio’s safety, health and wellness, and strengthens our city workforce.

We were joined by hundreds of other community members who believe in the same priorities.  We heard from many neighbors that their neighborhoods needed better lighting and safe sidewalks.  We heard from business owners, mothers, teachers, fathers, grandparents and city workers, that it is time to stop cutting and start looking for new revenue sources.

When the city called to cut police and fire, residents said “NO!” 20140522_180915

When the city pushed back that there isn’t enough money, residents provided solutions. One solution that continued to surface was a demand that city council push state legislators to shut down loopholes that allows commercial property owners to pay their fair share in property taxes, just like homeowners do.  Residents understand that our schools and libraries can see more funding if commercial property owners stop manipulating the system.

Hard working families deserve access to services that improve their quality of life and we won’t back down until we get them.

Check out our photos of folks in action on Facebook!

 

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Enough is Enough: San Antonio Wants Real Values

Crowded classrooms, school closures, longer wait times for emergency services, uneven sidewalks, and dimly lit streets in San Antonio – all concerns San Antonio residents are talking about right now.

And why wouldn’t we?

IMG_1644The truth is, schools and local services in San Antonio have lost an estimated $750 million over the past five years because big commercial property owners exploit the property tax system through appeals and lawsuits.
This not only deprives schools and city services of much-needed funds, it also increases pressure on homeowners and average taxpayers to make up the difference.

But yesterday, we joined homeowners, parents and other community groups and  said, “Enough is enough.” We marched outside Homewood Suites on the Riverwalk carrying signs to highlight big commercial property owners that exploit property tax law and  chanted, “We’re no fools, fund our schools,” and “Hey, hey, what do we say? Big building owners, it’s time to pay.”

Statewide, this manipulation has cost the people of Texas an estimated $4 billion over the last five years and out of that, schools have lost an approximate $2.3 billion.

Most homeowners pay property taxes on the real values of their properties and do their part to IMG_1647support kids and schools.

Its time for big commercial property owners to do the same.  It’s time for real values.

Join the fight for a Better San Antonio and Real Texas Values and sign the petition to support reform!

On Twitter or Facebook?  Let others know you care:

“Our broken property tax system hurts kids and communities in San Antonio. We need #RealValuesTX NOW!”

 

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Today would have been Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 85th birthday

(previously posted at http://www.seiu.org/2014/01/mlk-85th-birthday.php)

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On this day in 1929, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born.

No single person has made greater contributions toward the advancement of both the civil rights and labor movements than Dr. King—and his inspiring words about labor resonate just as fiercely today as they did half a century ago.

He saw strengthening unions and lifting up workers as critical to achieving long term justice for African Americans and helped motivate hundreds of thousands of activists, both black and white, through his speeches and the example he set.

As we celebrate the anniversary of Dr. King’s 85th birthday, listen to one of the last speeches he gave to 1199SEIU and other union members and supporters about continuing the fight for social and economic justice:

On Monday, SEIU Texas members will take part in the Houston and San Antonio parades that celebrate late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and all that he has inspired.

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San Antonio Members Score Budget Cut Victory

CRTsSanAntonioThe San Antonio City Council proposed a number of budget cuts to vital public and community services in the last few weeks including cutting the staff of Crisis Response Teams (CRTs) that assist domestic violence victims and cutting back on hours and services at libraries, recreation centers, and pools.

SEIU members took these cuts as a call to action and joined neighborhood activist, community members, and co-workers to stand up against domestic violence and other cuts to community services – and they won.

The City Council received the message loud and clear, restoring cuts to CRT teams to continue providing services to domestic violence victims, parks, libraries and programs for children and seniors.

Live in San Antonio and want to help make it better for all of us? Sign up here!

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Animal Care Officers Blow Whistle on San Antonio’s Growing Stray Dog Crisis

Dangerous Understaffing inside Animal Control Services Threatens Public Safety

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San Antonio Animal Care Services (ACS) employees are taking action to protect residents from the public health and safety threats posed by our city’s growing stray dog crisis. During a session of City Council’s Citizens to be Heard, Animal Care Officers (ACO’s) gave first hand accounts of the astounding understaffing endangering the public daily. Under current ACS mismanagement, thousands of calls for help go unanswered, bites are on the rise, and residents have resorted to trapping animals themselves.

Stand with them. Tell San Antonio City Council to treat stray dogs as a public safety issue.

“We are dangerously understaffed,” said Gabriel Rodriguez, Animal Care Officer with five years of service to San Antonio. “I am deeply concerned that ACS is failing in our mission to protect our citizens. We received 7,600[1] calls for help in April–the vast majority of which we could not respond to at all.”

With only 13* Animal Care Officers assigned to catch strays and respond to calls for all of San Antonio and Bexar County, the public is at-risk. Already in 2013, there have been 1,894* animal bites—the vast majority by dogs. By comparison, Houston had only 1,265 bites in all of 2012[2]. At this rate, our city is on track to have three times the amount of animal bite victims than Houston, despite having 300,000 more residents.

“Every weekend in April there were only two Animal Care Officers deployed for the entire county with 100,000 strays on the streets. Current ACS management is absolutely not focused on the public safety aspect of our mission. We ask that this Council and the public please stand with us to treat stray dogs as a public safety crisis.” said Animal Control Officer Thomas Stowers.

This speak out at City Hall is part of a summer-long campaign to educate the public on the dangers posed by the stray dog crisis and bring about reform to ACS.

 


[1] Source: ACS Internal Tracking System

[2] Houston shares tips during dog prevention week, 2013 http://www.chron.com/communityblogs/atmosphere/article/Dog-Bite-Week-4539172.php

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Texans to Ted Cruz and John Cornyn: The Time IS Now! Support a Path to Citizenship for Undocumented Immigrants

As the Senate closes in on its immigration reform proposal, SEIU members in Texas have joined tens of thousands of people across the country to support reform that will strengthen our families, our communities and our country.

As a huge rally in Washington, DC was lifting off, hundreds of Texans in Houston, San Antonio and Dallas marched, delivered petitions and spoke directly to elected officials in their home towns about how important this legislation is.

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