The Bakersfield Californian – Feb. 5, 2011 – Letter to the Editor by Ducth Koreen –
The Kern County Board of Supervisors hired out-of-county attorney Cage Dungy to lead the county’s negotiating team in bargaining with SEIU Local 521. Dungy informed the SEIU team that the county’s position was political, not budgetary. All union recommendations to save money were quickly dismissed.
The county wants to implement a 20 percent medical premium immediately, and over 24 months, have workers who fall in this category to pay half of their full pension costs. The benefits were offered in exchange for years of low or no raises. These benefits were a written promise.
Imagine all Kern homeowners had a fixed mortgage rate of 4.6 percent, then suddenly the mortgage company raised its rate to 6.7 percent because they’re going through hard times. Would the homeowners agree to this?
Currently, the average income for SEIU county employees who would be affected is $50,238. Most of the lower-paid employees would lose nearly 27 percent of their take-home income. We can expect these employees to lose their housing, vehicles and child care. This will impact our economy severely.
On Dec. 7, the board agreed to extend the Williamson Act tax break despite a cost of $4.6 million, so corporate farms such as Tejon Ranch and Grimmway Farms wouldn’t have to pay as much tax. Was this action out of budgetary concerns or politics?
Perhaps the Board of Supervisors should alter its proposed chamber motto to “In God we trust, because our citizens and employees don’t trust us.”