History of Advocacy

SEIU has a long and proud history of bringing workers together with allies to acheive significant advocacy gains in California. Here are some highlights from the last several years:


Senate Bill No. 468 Self-Determination Legislation signed into law

Council members worked together with Senator Emmerson, the bill’s sponsors, and other advocates to develop this legislation that will provide Californians with Developmental Disabilities the opportunity to have more choice and control over their supports.  SB 468 may be the single most significant change in the service delivery of the Regional Center system since its creation almost 50 years ago. We continue to work with a work group convened by DDS to create the new waiver application and to insure the resources for enhanced case management ratios needed for this program to be successful are in place.  For more information review the Disability Rights California bill summary.

Employment First Legislation

With strong support from the Council the California Legislature passed the Employment First legislation without a dissenting vote.  The Council continues to actively support employment options for Californians with Developmental Disabilities and participate in the State Council on Developmental Disabilities Employment First Council.


Self-Determination – The collaboration to promote AB 1244 expanded to include prominent parent leaders, such as the Autism Society of Los Angeles.  Self-Determination was debated throughout the state and a new vision emerged for people controlling their own services and pursuing their dreams in the ways that they choose.  The legislation was vigorously opposed by many provider agencies and their trade associations who felt it was a threat to the status quo.  Although the legislation did not pass in 2012, the work to give people the CHOICE for Self-Determination continues.
Find out more here on how to get involved.

College of Alameda Direct Support Worker Education – Building on the success of the Workforce Investment Board grant,  the Consumer Directed Services Network, EBI, and SEIU worked with the College of Alameda to create the Direct Support Professionals Career Ladder Training & Employment Program, with a $300,000 Job Development Incentives Fund Grant from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s office. This path breaking project gives unemployed workers referred by the local One-Stop 15 weeks of coursework worth 14 units of community college credit, a certificate of proficiency from the College, as well as, placement in an internship with a local DD employer.  The CDSN developed a network of thirty provider agencies eager to provide internships that hopefully will lead to jobs for project graduates.

Guiding Principles – SEIU and national leaders of the movement for self-determination for people with disabilities sign the Guiding Principles. These principles support the aspirations for freedom and dignity of people with diverse disabilities of all ages and the workers who support them.
Find out more about the Guiding Principles here.

AB 1244, Self-Determination – In a bold policy proposal, SEIU worked with Assemblymember Wes Chesbro, Disability Rights California, and the State Council on Developmental Disabilities, to craft AB 1244 (Chesbro) which would have given every regional center client the CHOICE to keep the services they have nor OR to choose Self-Determination.  This historic collaboration between advocates and the union was based on the Guiding Principles.  This legislation passed the California Assembly 51-27, before pausing in the Senate.

Individual Choice Budget
– SEIU became the leading voice for maximizing consumer control of their supports and services through the proposed ICB option. Preparing for possible legislation to implement the ICB in 2011.

Workforce Investment Board Training Grant – The Workforce Investment Board of Alameda County awarded a $75,000 training grant to the partnership of Local 1021 and East Bay Innovations. The grant proposal was developed by a labor management committee and will pay for training of EBI workers, who will then receive wage increases after completing the training. This is the first time in California, and possibly the nation, that a local WIB awarded funding to a DD agency for training of incumbent workers.

Playing defense
– Worked with disability advocates to fight huge cuts to IHSS hours and provider wages. For first time Legislature agreed to IHSS cuts. Our coalition challenged the cuts in court preventing them from taking place. SEIU also worked with advocates, regional centers and provider agencies to try and minimize the impact of a 15% reduction to the regional center system.

Obama –
SEIU members from all over the US, including California, converged on battleground states in the largest ground operation outside of the Obama campaign. Obama’s election victory heralded a period of opportunity for advancing the rights of people with disabilities to live in communities, be in control of their lives, and have access to affordable healthcare.


Employment of People with Disabilities – At their 2008 International Convention, members of SEIU passed by acclamation Resolution 119A (PDF) which committed the union to work with advocates to advance the employment of people with disabilities and to better serve its members have disabilities.

Training Pilot Program, AB 1427
– AB 1427 would have established a pilot training program to pay for training, and when agencies train their workers, they would have gotten up to a 16% rate increase to reward the workers who were trained. SEIU worked in coalition with disability advocates, academics, and the Consumer Directed Services Network to move this through the legislature against the vigorous opposition of trade associations trying to preserve the status quo of little or no training requirements. AB 1427 became a national model for workforce development and training, but was vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger.

East Bay Innovations
– The Board, management and workers of a leading supported living and supported employment agency formed an alliance with SEIU Local 1021. EBI agreed to card check neutrality, and workers chose to organize into a union with SEIU Local 1021. This alliance led to a number of initiatives to improve training and funding for the agency and the quality of supports for the people they serve.

Increased DD Funding
– Working with disability advocates, regional centers, and provider agencies, SEIU helped achieve a $10M increase in regional center operations to hold down caseloads and a 26% increase in rates for Supported Employment providers to incentivize employment supports for people with developmental disabilities.

Self-Directed Services (SDS)– SEIU and Disability Rights California teamed to support state budget authorization for California to give people with developmental disabilities the ability to control their own service budgets. Passed and signed into law, despite opposition from trade associations representing the status quo. SDS stalled in 2008 due to technical problems in federal regulations.

AB 649
– Originally modeled after the successful public authority system, the bill was amended to require the state to keep increases in federal funding in the DD system. Unified advocacy community. Mobilized 500 consumers, family members and workers to show support at legislative hearing. Bill passed by legislature but vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger.

Community Imperative Declaration – By a unanimous vote of our members at the 2004 International Convention, SEIU became the only labor union to endorse the Community Imperative Declaration that states that no one should be institutionalized because of a developmental disability.

Independence Plus Waiver – Working with disability advocates and seniors, moved Schwarzenegger Administration to apply for federal funding, saving IHSS services provided by family members.

Disability Capitol Action Day – Created by and for people of all disabilities, SEIU was pleased to be able to support our disability allies in establishing this as an iconic and politically important annual event.

SEIU Commits to People Living with Developmental Disabilities
– At their 2000 International Convention, SEIU members voted to lend their support to help workers in the DD and mental health systems organize to uplift their workforce, uplift their professions, and better support the people they serve.
IHSS Public Authorities
– An historic coalition of people with disabilities, seniors, and SEIU passed SB 485, allowing Counties to establish Public Authorities as the employer of record for In Home Support Services Workers.

Federal Funding for IHSS
– This same coalition succeeded in passing AB 1773 which led to federal matching funds to fuel the expansion of IHSS services and increases in wages.
IHSS Expansion – AB 1682 mandated that all counties establish an IHSS employer of record. The Living with Dignity Act provided increase state funding for IHSS provider compensation. This led to a vast expansion of IHSS and increases in wages in the next decade, and one of the lowest nursing home utilization rates in the US.

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