Kern Co. workers tell personal stories of pay cut impacts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: James Geluso
(661) 321-4163 | James.Geluso@seiu521.org

Monday, January 10, 2011

Cards to be delivered Tuesday; available online now

Bakersfield, CA – Kids pulled out of college. Homes foreclosed. Families no longer able to afford day care while the parents work. Employees at the Department of Human Services spending their break time applying for the same benefits they administer. More bankruptcies. And a massive wave of retirements that will undermine the county’s finances and reduce the services residents receive.

All those will be the consequences of massive pay cuts the Kern County Board of Supervisors plans to impose on its employees – cuts of up to 27 percent that will disproportionately fall on the lowest-paid workers.

Those impacts are spelled out in a series of cards filled out by hundreds of county workers – nurses, road workers, child support officers and others who provide necessary services to Kern County residents. The first batch of cards will be delivered to the Board at its 9 a.m. meeting Tuesday.

“This proposal would shatter our American dream,” one employee wrote. “We would lose our home.”

Another worker has to regularly take her son to Madera County for care at the Children’s Hospital there. After decades of being told her benefits would remain, she is now to take a $400-a-month cut in pay, undermining her ability to care for her son.

The county supervisors declared, before negotiations even began, that they wanted long-time workers’s medical premium coverage cut from 100 percent to 80 percent, and that it would, over two years, phase out its coverage of the “member contribution” to retirement. Both are integral components of workers’’ compensation. The county then put up the thinnest pretense at negotiation, declaring that it would not consider alternative cuts or changes to contract language – not even proposals that would have no cost to the county.

The cards can be viewed online at http://bit.ly/ePFJe2 or in a slideshow at http://bit.ly/fzyz3W (slow speed is recommended).

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The Service Employees International Union is an organization of 2.1 million members united by the belief in the dignity and worth of workers and the services they provide. SEIU is dedicated to improving the lives of workers and their families and creating a more just and humane society. For more information, visit www.seiu521.org

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