Press Release: Strike shows value of public workers, services

For immediate release – Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012

Contact:
James Geluso, (661) 301-3963
Khanh Weinberg, (408) 921-0098

Strike shows value of public workers, services

County dismisses workers’ importance, but on-the-ground testimonials reveal true impact

FRESNO—As Fresno County workers head back to their jobs Thursday, they’ll remember the outpouring of public support. And they’ll know that despite misrepresentations from the county, the three-day strike unquestionably showed the community the value of public services—especially when qualified staff is not there to provide them.

The county has steadfastly followed its prewritten script, claiming that the walkout of 2,000 workers for three days had no impact on county services. In fact, client testimonials and stories leaking out from sympathetic county personnel show otherwise.

“I give my cell phone number to my clients, and they’ve been calling me all week asking for help,” said Lorraine Ramirez, an emergency responder for Child Protective Services. “They’re not getting the court-mandated services they need. There’s nobody there to help them.”

“The building is open, but as far as providing services to this community, it’s not,” said Rogenia Cox, a communicable disease investigator at the county’s Public Health Department. She said residents were going inside for everything from immunizations to death certificates, and being turned away.

And the county knew it would be this way. “We were told when we left on Friday to cancel all our appointments and all our field visits, and that the work would be waiting for us when we return on Thursday,” Cox said.

Yet county officials maintained that no services were compromised. In a statement of cluelessness, Supervisor Phil Larson claimed Monday that the absences were no greater than a normal workday, even as he sat 100 yards from the Kerman office, which was closed and locked because all the workers were outside picketing.

The strike ends tonight at 10 p.m., when juvenile corrections officers will report to work. Members of the bargaining team will attend a mediation hearing Thursday, and then consider what to do next if the county continues to insist it won’t come back to the table.

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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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