Press Release: Fresno County workers strike for respect

For immediate release – Monday, Jan. 23, 2012

Contact:
James Geluso, (661) 301-3963
Jerry Jimenez, (408) 219-9636
Khanh Weinberg, (408) 921-0098
Miesha Brown, (314) 226-4162

Thousands of workers told Fresno County’s Board of Supervisors to come back to the bargaining table in a strike that shut down offices and clogged sidewalks Monday.

More than 1,500 workers came out to picket at nearly 30 sites around the county, and countless others stayed home, in the first day of a three-day strike. Members of SEIU Local 521, the county’s largest union, were joined by the California Nurses Union.

Some offices, such as the county’s social services office in Kerman, closed down completely because so many workers were on strike.

“I’m sorry that valuable services are disrupted today because the Board of Supervisors doesn’t see how important our work is to this community,” said Jennifer Jensen, a job specialist for the Department of Social Services. “If they understood how important our work was, they wouldn’t have walked away from the bargaining table.”

Workers are angry that county negotiators refused to actually bargain, instead just putting up a façade of negotiation. However, even the state Public Employment Relations Board saw through that, and has ordered the county to a mediation session on Thursday.

The strike began at 6 a.m. when workers at the Juvenile Justice Center gathered in the darkness instead of going in to work. Throughout the day, the numbers of workers swelled.

The strike continues Tuesday when the workers will all come to the Board of Supervisors meeting downtown at 8 a.m. at the Hall of Records, 2281 Tulare St.

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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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