San Jose Local 21 Members Unseat Incumbent to Elect Pro-Worker City Councilmember

In San Jose we are up against over 700 vacancies, high levels of turnover, and an impending wave of retirement (60% of all city employees are eligible for retirement in 2024). This understaffing crisis undermines the vital services that San Jose residents depend on. Our plan to fix it is to elect a city council that is committed to investing in our city.

In the 2018 midterm election, Local 21 members succeeded in flipping a key seat on the San Jose City Council by campaigning for Maya Esparza in District 7. With Esparza in office, we are one step closer to forming a progressive city council committed to prioritizing public services.

Tam Nguyen, who narrowly won in 2014, was defeated by Esparza because of the determined campaigning of Local 21 members and other labor allies in the City of San Jose. Our members worked over 100 shifts, knocking doors and making phone calls to registered voters and union members to get out the vote.

We chose to campaign for Esparza because she has committed to supporting public services and City workers’ issues. The daughter of teachers, she knows firsthand the power of education and community organizing.

David Nerhood, a City Association of Management Personnel board member, volunteered multiple nights to phone bank for Esparza. “I got involved in the Maya Esparza campaign as I envisioned her to be a true champion of workers’ rights and someone who could help turn the City Council to be pro-Labor. As Maya eventually won by the smallest of margins, I realized how important my small contribution was to her campaign. The votes I garnered for her contributed to her victory.”

If we want to secure a pro-worker majority, our union—in coalition with MEF Local 101 and OE3—needs to win more seats on the council in 2020. Our ability to challenge politicians and hold them accountable is part of our power. Our victory in District 7 was an important step towards building that power and investing in our city. Thank you to all of our volunteers!