County Unions to Rally Tuesday to Oppose Pay Cuts

The public workers will rally against massive pay and benefit cuts at the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors meeting (651 Pine St., Martinez) TUESDAY, December 6, at 9 a.m. to oppose a county plan to slash their pay and benefits, and impose the cuts – despite a good faith proposal by the union to save the taxpayers $14 million.

Five unions are organizing the rally including Public Employees Union Local One, AFSCME Locals 2700 and 512, SEIU Local 1021 and Western Council of Engineers. They represent more than 4400 employees, including clerks, custodians, gardeners, licensed vocational nurses and other medical staff, Head Start staff, eligibility workers, child welfare social workers, appraisers and engineers.

The County’s so-called “Last, Best and Final Offer,” which the Board is considering, imposes a 3.2 percent pay cut effective December 1, 2011 and would nearly double what employees pay for a pension – on average an additional 3.1 percent cut in pay. It also will require employees to pay 100 percent of increases in health care – more than $100 a month for a majority of employees with family health care.

The County’s insistence throughout bargaining that the employees pay 100 percent of the health care increases has been at the center of the dispute between the parties throughout negotiations.

Ironically, the Board of Supervisors is scheduled to adopt a new contract with the Deputy Sheriffs’ Association under which the County will pay 80 percent of the increases in health care on January 1, 2012 and 75 percent of the January 1, 2013 increases.

During the last three years, the County paid 87 percent of the health care increases for the Deputy Sheriffs while only paying 50 percent of increases for Coalition union-represented lowest-paid county employees.

“Our current proposal on the table will save the County, by its own calculations, well in excess of $14 million a year, yet it’s not good enough for the County,” said Felix Huerta, Business Agent for AFSCME Local 512. “We have also made creative proposals on health care that call for the County to share the increases in health care premiums, as it always has and as it continues to do for other employees. We made significant sacrifices during our last contract – not all County employees did.

“And now the Board is threatening to impose cuts on our members that are greater than those they have negotiated with other unions including the DSA. We have bargained in good faith. The County has not. The Board needs to back down from imposing and get back to the bargaining table.”

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