CBS 47: Fresno County workers strike over pay cut

Posted by CBS 47 Monday, Jan. 23, 2012

Fresno County correctional officers, social workers, and employees of libraries and administration offices went on strike Monday morning to protest a 9% pay cut.

Watch the video here.

Correctional officer, Kevin Westbrook, says he and other union members offered to take a 6 to 7 percent pay cut but the county was unwilling to accept that, so workers now find themselves in a tough position. “You know the employee still has to look at their paycheck and figure out – how do I cover all my bills with what I have left at the end of the day,” said Westbrook.

Job specialist Raquel Vidal is one who relies on every dime she brings in. “I’ve worked for the county for 22 years. I finally felt I was financially able to buy a home and now I may lose that home,” said Vidal.

Fresno County Supervisor Phil Larson said, “They have a right to go out on strike and do what they have to do for their workers.”

Supervisor Larson says all the departments took their cuts, with the exception of SEIU workers. He says what they were asking for wasn’t feasible, so the December 12th deadline came, their contract expired, and a 9% pay cut was implemented.

Supervisor Larson said, “What they don’t tell you is in the last 6 years, they’ve had a 30% increase in salary.”

The union has filed a complaint against the county, saying it broke the law and failed to negotiate in good faith.

Larson says the two sides met several times between June and December, but no agreement was ever reached. “So what led to this is they don’t want to take a cut and we don’t have a choice, we don’t have the money. Now Governor Brown says he’s going to take another 1.4 billion out of the budget,” said Larson.

Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims says the strike won’t put public safety in jeopardy.

Stay with CBS47 for continuing coverage of the union strike.

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