Cen­tury Cen­ter own­ers lobby to bring in Trader Joe’s

The Modesto Bee (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY KEN CARL­SON kcarl­[email protected]­bee.com

A group of Stanis­laus County em­ploy­ees re­turned to the picket lines Thurs­day and Fri­day and vowed to con­tinue with a strike next week.

More than 200 em­ploy­ees par­tic­i­pated in the walk­out Fri­day in protest of al­leged la­bor prac­tice vi­o­la­tions, said a union rep­re­sen­ta­tive, who was pleased with the turnout so close to the New Year’s hol­i­day. Union mem­bers said they were sup­port­ing ef­forts by Ser­vice Em­ploy­ees In­ter­na­tional Union Lo­cal 521 to ne­go­ti­ate a new con­tract with the county.

“We want a fair con­tract and we want our county to in­vest in our com­mu­nity,” said Kate Selover, SEIU chap­ter pres­i­dent.

Selover said details of the on­go­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions are not be­ing dis­closed, but the union is said to be seek­ing a three-year con­tract with 5 per­cent an­nual pay in­creases.

Many of the em­ploy­ees work for county Be­hav­ioral Health and Re­cov­ery Ser­vices, which pro­vides men­tal health and sub­stance abuse ser­vices to thou­sands of county res­i­dents. In ad­di­tion, the union rep­re­sents em­ploy­ees in Ag­ing and Vet­er­ans Ser­vices, the Com­mu­nity Ser­vices Agency, child sup­port ser­vices, the Health Ser­vices Agency, an­i­mal ser­vices, li­braries and other county of­fices.

Li­braries re­mained open, and no county ser­vices were shut down by the strike, county spokes­woman Amy Vick­ery said Fri­day. As dozens of em­ploy­ees called in sick, man­agers and newer em­ploy­ees on pro­ba­tion­ary


Kate Selover, SEIU chap­ter pres­i­dent

sta­tus were avail­able to serve the pub­lic. Pri­or­ity was given to ur­gent is­sues, Vick­ery said.

The county and SEIU have been un­able to ne­go­ti­ate a new mul­ti­year agree­ment since a pre­vi­ous con­tract ex­pired at the end of June. It is said the two sides are not close to an agree­ment on raises for about 700 em­ploy­ees. The bar­gain­ing group has not been will­ing to ac­cept 3 per­cent an­nual raises and the same eq­uity in­creases granted to other em­ploy­ees in the work­force, county of­fi­cials have said.

Ne­go­tia­tors will re­turn to the bar­gain­ing ta­ble Wed­nes­day.

“We re­spect the col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing process and hope we come to a res­o­lu­tion on be­half of em­ploy­ees and all res­i­dents of Stanis­laus County,” Su­per­vi­sor Vito Chiesa said.

Mem­bers of SEIU Lo­cal 521 held a pre­vi­ous one­day walk­out Nov. 5. The union has re­peat­edly said that so­cial work­ers and ther­a­pists who work with vul­ner­a­ble county res­i­dents, in­clud­ing foster chil­dren and the home­less, are un­der­paid, and that has led to high turnover and heavy caseloads for re­main­ing staff.

County Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Jody Hayes re­sponded to those claims af­ter SEIU-rep­re­sented em­ploy­ees spoke at the Board of Su­per­vi­sors meet­ing Nov. 6. Hayes said 46 per­cent of the county’s an­nual bud­get is spent on health and hu­man ser­vices. The county hired more than 40 so­cial work­ers be­tween 2016 and 2018, an in­crease from 147 to 188 po­si­tions, and the va­cancy rate for those po­si­tions has dropped from 7.5 per­cent to 4.1 per­cent, the CEO said.

By com­par­i­son, the va­cancy rate for the en­tire county work­force is 10 per­cent.

KEN CARL­SON kcarl­[email protected]­bee.com

More than 200 em­ploy­ees par­tic­i­pated in the walk­out Fri­day in protest of al­leged la­bor prac­tice vi­o­la­tions.

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