Organized Labor Rallies Around Cindy Chavez as Next San Diego County CAO

Sources say Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez has re-applied for the position of Chief Administrative Officer in San Diego County, where organized labor is turning up the heat to pressure the county board of supervisors to include her among finalists for the $400,000-a-year post.

Members of SEIU Local 221 and the local United Domestic Workers union, supported by the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, held a public rally outside the county administration building on Tuesday, pushing for Chavez' appointment as the supervisors met behind closed doors to discuss the hiring process for CAO, the county’s top staff position.

A flier and poster for  the “Rally for Transparent CAO Process” that was posted on Instagram, called on union members to “Tell the board to interview Cindy Chavez, a champion for working families, as a finalist for Chief Administrative Officer.”

Chavez, former director of the South Bay Labor Council in San Jose and a two-time unsuccessful candidate for mayor of San Jose, was considered the top candidate for the San Diego CAO early last year.

Her San Diego appointment was scuttled at the last minute, when a sexual harassment scandal forced the resignation of Supervisor Nathan Fletcher – husband of Chavez friend and political ally, state labor leader Lorena Gonzales Fletcher – and the postponement of the CAO search until after the November election. When another Democrat was elected to fill Fletcher’s seat, supervisors re-advertised the position and told prior applicants they would need to re-apply if they were still interested.

In mid-April, the influential online news outlet, the Voice of San Diego, reported that Chavez “is once again interested in the role.” Chavez has consistently not responded to requests for comment, and county officials have not identified any of the current applicants.

At Tuesday’s rally, the focus was on new board chair Nora Vargas to support “a transparent process that will include candidates supported by the community.”

The union leaders claimed that the supervisors last spring actually voted “to hire a pro-worker, Latina candidate [Chavez] to become the next Chief Administrative Officer, but the board suddenly changed its mind and rescinded the offer.” The board never revealed any details of its private deliberations.

The union leaders called the board’s action to change its mind on the Chavez appointment a “flip-flop [that] is unacceptable and could seriously harm the future of care in the county for years to come.”

In the Instagram post, the union leaders called on the county “to create a public, transparent process where the public can meet the finalists.”

The Voice of San Diego reported that the county apparently responded, and is expected to name semi-finalists this month. Each county supervisor will be able to nominate two constituents to interview them before finalists are put forward by the end of the month.

Also, in mid-April the executive committee of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council approved a resolution in support of Chavez’ application to be the new county CAO.

The proposed resolution will now go to the full group of delegates that represent all the unions within the Labor Council. It follows a similar resolution by the San Diego County Democratic Party. 

Crystal Irving, president of SEIU 221, which represents over 10,000 San Diego County employees, told the Voice of San Diego last month: “We are at a crossroads. We can either cling to the conservative ‘financial experience’ that prioritizes old fiscal policies, or we can embrace a bold, progressive future that truly serves all community members. Our coalition of Democrats, union members and progressives feel Cindy Chavez embodies this much needed change and will deliver on the board’s pro-worker vision for the future.”

Organized labor PACs – the AFL-CIO South Bay Labor Council and city police and firefighters unions – were the big spenders for Chavez in her unsuccessful San Jose mayoral campaign of 2022, using money from individual union members as well as bundled gifts from big individual and corporate donors to amass more than $3.8 million in funds for the Chavez campaign.

Three decades of journalism experience, as a writer and editor with Gannett, Knight-Ridder and Lee newspapers, as a business journal editor and publisher and as a weekly newspaper editor in Scotts Valley and Gilroy; with the Weeklys group since 2017. Recipient of several first-place writing and editing awards, California News Publishers Association.


  1. Cindy Chavez was on the VTA board that mandated employees get jabbed or lose their jobs. She proved herself the anthesis of “pro-worker.”

  2. I’d rather be pro life than pro worker in this case. I’m not a fan of Cindy but she did the right thing. Take the shot for other people, even if you don’t care about yourself

  3. The evil notion that one must subordinate control of one’s own body and personal medical decisions to the welfare of others is contrary to Western morality.
    “My body, my choice.”

    Coercing the taking of experimental medical treatment violates the Nuremberg Code, emanating in the aftermath of the Nazis. Voluntary and informed consent of the subject is paramount.

    As a result federal regulations prohibit coercing the taking of emergency use authorization (EUA) jabs. No FDA approved “vaccine” was ever available in this country, only the EUA version. The VTA board thus had no legal right to coerce employees to take EUA jabs.

    And the vax was neither fully safe nor fully effective, as fraudulently promoted.

    Not to mention, the coerced jabs should, at the very least, have been the subject of collective bargaining with the VTA union. They were not because the union bosses were conflicted, being more afraid of antagonizing Cindy Chavez than faithful to their workers’ rights. VTA’s already toxic work environment was significantly exacerbated as a result.

  4. San Diego and its area are huge size-wise, but a sleeper. While many are asleep elsewhere, the activists in the city and county have been having all kinds of fun with transportation policy (with even more striking desires) and it’s also no surprise that in addition to finding a prospective new home, our very own Ms. Chavez would find support for a particular government job there.

    The strong push for Chavez reflects the political influence that labor unions have been amassing in the last decade.

    “We are at a crossroads: We can either cling to the conservative ‘financial experience’ that prioritizes old fiscal policies, or we can embrace a bold, progressive future that truly serves all community members. Our coalition of Democrats, union members and progressives feel Cindy Chavez embodies this much needed change and will deliver on the Board’s pro-worker vision for the future[.]”

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