Century Center owners lobby to bring in Trader Joe’s
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
WE WANT A FAIR CONTRACT AND WE WANT OUR COUNTY TO INVEST IN OUR COMMUNITY.
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.
More than 200 employees participated in the walkout Friday in protest of alleged labor practice violations.