Arvin workers stand up and win!

Council fires bad city manager

Feb. 18, 2011 – Arvin city workers stood up, stood together, and stuck with each other for months, and on Feb. 15 it paid off when the Arvin City Council fired the city manager.

Beginning with a rally at a city council meeting in October, when the council put the manager effectively on probation, city workers kept pointing out a culture of discrimination and cronyism fostered by the city manager.

While some members of the business community and the city council were dissatisfied with the city manager, it was the unity shown by workers that pushed the council to push the manager out.

If not for the workers, “He’d still be there,” said Arvin City Councilmember Steven Ojeda, one of the four who voted to terminate the city manager.

After years of dealing with a hostile work environment, workers filled the city council chambers in October, and the community came too.

“When we had the community and the citizens behind us, it was the greatest feeling in the world,” said Rigo Ramos, a public works worker who spoke to the council in October.

Randy Thompson, manager of the Arvin Chamber of Commerce, said in a small town like Arvin, when city workers are mistreated, everybody hears about it.

“If it concerns them, it concerns me,” he said.

After the vote, Arvin’s city workers were walking on sunshine, even when it was raining on them, said Alex Ayala, who works in public works.

“Last night, I couldn’t go back to sleep!” he said.

“Everything is going to be brighter,” said Conrad Alvarez (picured on the left), a driver for Arvin’s transportation department.

“When you don’t have support from anybody, you feel powerless. Because of the union, we’re in a better place.”
–- Alex Ayala, Arvin public works

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