A message from your Kern County bargaining team

After two years of negotiating SEIU 521’s negotiating team has a mediated agreement with the help of the California State Mediation/Conciliation Service. This mediated agreement must be approved by SEIU 521 members before it can be placed on the March 27th Board of Supervisors agenda. The vote will take place starting next Monday through Saturday at the same locations as our last vote. Days and times may be changed due to weather conditions.

So, why does your bargaining team believe that this is the best bargaining package that we can obtain?

While this agreement is not perfect it does prevent the BOS from imposing the full medical costs to us in one year and prevents the BOS from opening our contract for three years to lower or eliminate more of our benefits or wages. Following implementation we had fully expected the BOS to issue a bargaining demand for all employees to pay their full retirement cost by next July. Other wages and benefits would also be at risk.

Under this proposal, all employees will be receiving the 2 percent salary increase in the second year (May 2013). This was the first time the BOS agreed to offer us any wage increase.

In the third year, the union has a reopener for the sole purpose of negotiating a salary increase.The BOS cannot seek a salary decrease as they did last year. Your bargaining team believes that the Kern County economy and tax base will improve in the next two years so that we can seek reasonable pay increases that are well deserved by the county employees.

Also in the third year we will gain binding arbitration of grievances, an important benefit we have sought for years. Without binding arbitration, union attorneys always advise to find a way to settle a grievance. They say why pay for advisory arbitration when the county can reject any arbitrator’s recommendation.Binding arbitration gives us a fair playing field.

Please take the time and read the mediator’s proposed settlement that you will be voting on! We will try to answer other questions as they come to the union office or to bargaining team members.

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