County Employee Unions to Rally for More Taxpayer Money

Five major employee unions representing thousands of Contra Costa County workers have announced a major rally Tuesday – they held 4 rallies on one day in early October – in their campaign to win a “fair contract” from Contra Costa County.

The rally will be TUESDAY (Oct. 25) 11:30 am. to 1 p.m. at the County Administration building, 651 Pine St., Martinez.

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, eligibility workers, animal services employees, and child care workers.

Contra Costa County employees represented by Public Employees Union, Local One, AFSCME Locals 2700 and 512, SEIU Local 1021 and Western Council of Engineers, charge their workers are not getting fair shake.

The Unions’ contracts expired June 30, 2011, and there has been bargaining since late April. The County is seeking significant wage and benefit cuts, although recently expired union contracts gave the County labor savings including major changes in health care for both active and retired employees.

Despite those concessions, the County wants employees to pay all healthcare premium increases – which they have not obtained from all County employees. 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.

“Our members do not want to be treated as second class citizens and want a fair contract. Since our last rallies, the County has not changed its position on health care. It still is proposing we pay 100 percent of the increases in monthly premiums. It hasn’t budged from this position even though it has either agreed with other unions to continue to pay most of next year’s increases or has made offers to other unions to pick up most of the increases,” said Felix Huerta, from AFSCME, the Coalition’s chair this year.

“We made sacrifices last contract and we’ve offered to make more for this contract. We have proposals on the table to cut our take-home pay and pay more for pensions. But we want to be treated fairly,” Huerta added,

“Many of our members are stretched to the brink,” said Huerta. “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 on Tuesday.”

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