Kern workers take to the streets

Feb. 20, 2011 – Nearly 100 Kern County workers brought their message to the busiest intersection in Bakersfield Saturday morning.

The message was simple: A demand for negotiation.

Cars and pickups rolled by, honking horns in support. Several people rolled down their windows or walked over from nearby restaurants to ask what was going on. Two members of the bargaining team spoke to TV news cameras.

Most workers were from SEIU 521, but they were joined by Kern County detention officers who are fighting the same battle, and by SEIU 1000 members who came to support workers.

Following the sign-waving, workers dispersed to grocery stores around Kern County to spread information about why workers voted to authorize a strike.

The workers are fighting demands for pay cuts as steep as 27 percent, which would fall disproportionately on older and lower-paid workers. The county has refused to bargain, and workers want the board of supervisors to come to the table.

“If these proposals pass, we’re going to lose 10 to 20 percent of people in the Roads Department. We can’t train people fast enough to replace that experience. It’s going to make Kern County roads worse. We want a real negotiation so this doesn’t happen.”
— Wayne Caldwell, Road Maintenance Worker III

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