ABC News: Strike by Fresno Co workers enters third day

Posted by ABC30 KFSN-TV Fresno Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — Hundreds of Fresno County workers turned out on the final day of a 3-day strike. Members with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) are accusing the county of unfairly reducing employee wages. “We would all rather be inside working and protecting children but we feel very strongly about what the board of supervisors had done,” said Kim Desmond, a county worker participating in the strike.

Those on the picket line say resources are being spread too thin with limited staff — impacting many services, including Child Protective Services. “I have a hard time believing that they’re able to keep up with the referrals that are coming in and the calls from the community for children that are at risk of being abused or neglected,” said Desmond, who works at the CPS.

But county representatives say they are still providing essential services even though it may take more time to handle requests. “We’re triaging the requests that come in to prioritize the more serious ones so that we can respond to those but we’re continuing to operate with the resources we have,” said John Navarette, Fresno County Administrative Officer.

“It is an inconvenience though,” said County resident Julie Carnahan. Carnahan left the County Health building without an immunization shot. “They asked me what I was here for and I said, ‘my flu shot,’ and they said well there’s no nurses here today,” she said. County staff asked her to return Thursday when nurses would be back on the job.

Both sides will meet with the California Public Employee Relations Board Thursday in Sacramento. “We’re going up there to see if we can come to some agreement to get back to the bargaining table,” said Sandra Schillaci, a SEIU negotiator.

Navarette said he’s looking forward to the meeting. “It will hopefully clear up this matter and show that the County did in fact not bargain in bad faith,” said Navarette.

In the meantime, County workers are expected to return to work Thursday morning.

(Copyright ©2012 KFSN-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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