Families at risk as Fresno County refuses to make insurance deductions

Press release

Fresno County’s treatment of its workers has hit a new low. The county is refusing to process payroll deductions for life insurance provided through SEIU 521, even though it is contractually obligated to do so.

That leaves hundreds of Fresno County families at risk.

“I just felt that it would give me a little more piece of mind for myself and my daughter, should something happen to me,” said Diana Calderon, an eligibility worker who signed up for the insurance. “I just think that it’s unethical on their part because they committed to doing it for Fresno County employees. And now they’re refusing and it’s just unprofessional.”

The county claims it’s too expensive to program its computers to make the deduction.

Jim Windsor, a social services program supervisor, doesn’t buy that excuse. The county already deducts for long-term disability and COPE, and that wasn’t a problem.

“It’s just a one-time programming change. They just have to enter it one time and then it takes care of itself as long as I’m in,” Windsor said.

The insurance company even offered to reimburse the county for its cost, but the county refused.

“I believe they’re using it as a tool in the contract process we’re currently negotiating,” Windsor said. “To hold 120 or 150 people hostage as a bargaining chip for 4,000 people is kind of crappy and underhanded to me.”

Windsor said he signed up for the insurance because as a 58-year-old he doesn’t have many options for increasing his insurance coverage.

“That and it was a really good rate,” he said.

The contract currently in force requires the county to make the deductions.

The county shall deduct from the pay of each employee in a position subject to this MOU Union dues or an amount equal to the service fee or other fees and insurance premiums established by the Union or religious exemption fee, and shall mail all said deductions to the Union no later than the end of the month after which said amounts were deducted.

Calderon and Windsor are available for interviews.

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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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