County Employee Unions Demand More Tax Dollars

Labor unions representing more than 4,000 Contra Costa County employees – including some of the county’s lowest paid employees – have targeted the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors to urge an “equal and fair” agreement for healthcare. The BOS meeting is Tuesday Nov. 8 at 9 a.m. at the County Administration Building, 651 Pine St.

It is the third action in a month by Contra Costa County employees represented by Public Employees Union, Local One, AFSCME Locals 2700 and 512, SEIU Local 1021 and the Western Council of Engineers. They held rallies at four worksites Oct. 11 and at the BOS meeting later last month.

A key issue in the current bargaining, which started in late April, is healthcare. The County, under a recently negotiated tentative agreement with the Deputy Sheriffs Association (“DSA”), will pay for most of the increase in health care for deputy sheriffs, but has refused to pay any of the increase for its employees represented by the five Coalition unions. The Tentative Agreement between the County and the DSA is in the ratification process.

The five unions represent a vast array of public servants including custodians, clerks, health care workers, social workers, eligibility workers, appraisers, skilled craft workers, engineers, animal services employees, child care workers and librarians.

“The County has not budged from its position that our members pay 100 percent of the increases in monthly health care premiums while at the same time it is still demanding that our members agree to significant wage cuts and that we pay more for pensions,” said Felix Huerta, AFSCME Business Agent and the Coalition Chair.

“The County continues to insist that it will not pay a penny more for health care for our members even though it has now agreed with the DSA to pay the lion’s share of the health care increases for employees it represents. Good for the DSA. ‘What about us?’ is the question our members are asking. Does the Board think we are second class citizens,” Huerta said.

The Unions’ contracts expired June 30, 2011. They and the County have been bargaining since late April. The County is seeking significant wage and benefit cuts. The recently expired union contracts gave the County labor savings including major changes in health care for both active and retired employees. Since 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 DSA tentative agreement does not include them.

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