County Employee Unions Stage Protests

More than 4,000 public servants in Contra Costa County – who have taken pay and benefit cuts the last two years – will hold a series of rallies Tuesday throughout the County, including Martinez, Richmond and Pittsburg.

The five unions – bargaining together as the Contra Costa County Labor Coalition – represent the County’s lowest paid employees, including custodians, clerks, health care workers, social workers, eligibility workers, appraisers, skilled craft workers, engineers, animal services employees, child care workers and Librarians.

Rallies are scheduled at the following times and locations on Tuesday:

9:45 a.m., 10 a.m., and 3 p.m.: Contra Costa County Employment and Human Services Department Antioch Office. 4545 Delta Fair Blvd, Antioch

11 a.m. – 1 p.m.: Contra Costa County Regional Medical Center, 2500 Alhambra Ave. Martinez. In the circle in front of the hospital

11:30 a.m.- 1 p.m.: Pittsburg Health Center, 2311 Loveridge Rd., Pittsburg

11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.: Richmond Health Center, 100 38th St., Richmond

The Unions’ contracts expired June 30, 2011 The recently expired union contracts gave the County labor savings including major changes in health care for both active and retired employees. Since the these 5 unions signed their last contracts in 2009, the County has not obtained the same changes in health care from all County employees. The County is seeking significant wage and benefit cuts in the current negotiations.

“Our members do not want to be treated as second class citizens and want a fair contract,” said Felix Huerta, from AFSCME, the Coalition’s chair this year. “We made sacrifices last contract and are prepared to make more this year. We have proposal on the table to cut our take-home pay and pay more for pensions. But we want to be treated fairly.”

A significant issue in the bargaining is the County’s unwillingness to share in the increase cost of health care. Management has proposed to freeze what it pays at the 2011 level. The Unions are proposing that management increase its contribution when health care rates go up.

“Many of our members are stretched to the brink. They haven’t had a pay raise since 2008, their take-home pay was cut the last two years because of furloughs and they have been paying a bigger share of health care each of the last two years. Asking us to cut our pay even more, pay more for pensions and, on top of that, pay all the increases for health care is not reasonable … that’s why we’re marching Tuesday,” Huerta said.

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