Appellate Court Denies Tulare County Appeal, Workers Must Be Paid Back Wages

PRESS RELEASE
Tuesday, July 12, 2016
Contact: Khanh Weinberg, (408) 921-0098, khanh.weinberg@seiu521.org

Appellate Court Denies Tulare County Appeal, Workers Must Be Paid Back Wages

PERB 2015 decision stands, Tulare County broke contractual promises to SEIU Local 521 members

VISALIA, Calif. – A state appeals court has ruled in favor of SEIU Local 521 members in Tulare County, affirming a previous decision by the Public Employment Relations Board that the county could not unilaterally impose pay freezes on its workers.

In a February 2015 ruling, PERB had ordered Tulare County to “make whole” workers who were denied the promotions and merit step increases that had been expressly promised them in a labor contract.

The county appealed the decision and the case moved to the California’s Fifth Appellate Court.

“This is a victory for workers and SEIU members in Tulare County,” said Ryan Wilson, a supervising Child Support Officer and Tulare County Chapter President with SEIU Local 521. “We hope the county will accept this ruling and move on rather than waste more taxpayer dollars on court appeals.”

The case stems from an SEIU charge filed in 2011 alleging that the county violated workers’ contract when it refused to honor its obligation to “thaw” a prior freeze on promotions and pay increases.

SEIU Local 521 had a contract with Tulare County from August 1, 2009 through July 31, 2011, covering employees in five SEIU-represented bargaining units. The contract contained two key provisions related to flexibly-allocated classifications (promotions) and merit increases. At the county’s request during tough economic times, SEIU members had agreed to a freeze in those categories but that upon expiration of the contract, the county would place workers in the classifications and wage tiers they would have reached had there been no freeze.

The PERB 2015 ruling ordered Tulare County to make whole the affected workers by granting them the deserved one-time promotions and wage increase, with a 7% annual interest accrued from August 2011.

Said Kristy Sermersheim, the union’s Chief Elected Officer: “We are happy that both PERB and the appellate court have agreed that Tulare County violated our agreement and treated workers in bad faith. Our members are committed to serving the Tulare community and their work is indispensable. This is a fair, just and long overdue decision.”

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Service Employees International Union, Local 521 represents 40,000 public- and nonprofit, private-sector workers in the central Bay Area region and in the Central Valley. Under a Community First vision, we are committed to making sure the needs of our community, and the vital services we provide our community, come first. We believe our communities thrive when residents, leaders and workers recognize that we are all in this together when it comes to our safety, health, and well-being.

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8 Responses to “Appellate Court Denies Tulare County Appeal, Workers Must Be Paid Back Wages”

  1. Dorothy Lansing says:

    Will those who were employed during the period of time in question and are now retired receive back pay as well.

    • SEIU Local 521 says:

      Come to the Special General Membership Meeting to find out:
      Thursday, August 11th from 6:00-7:30pm
      SEIU 521 Visalia Office, 1811 W. Sunnyside Ave.

  2. Tiffany says:

    What is the expected payment date of this? Does the County have appeal rights or is this decision final?

    • SEIU Local 521 says:

      Come to the Special General Membership Meeting to find out:
      Thursday, August 11th from 6:00-7:30pm
      SEIU 521 Visalia Office, 1811 W. Sunnyside Ave.

  3. Cynthia Echavarria says:

    I was employed during the years the lawsuit indicated. I just found out about about it today. How do check to make sure I’m on the list?

  4. David Billhimer says:

    perfect, You advertise a meeting in August of 2015 in November of 2016. No chance to attend. I am just today getting this e-mail and info. what happened ? How do I and my fellow workers apply for the back pay ? Where ? is there a deadline that has not passed ?

  5. Elizabeth Vera says:

    I was there from 0
    03/2010 through 06/2011. Am I eligible for this back pay?

    • SEIU Local 521 says:

      Please visit our Visalia office. 1811 Sunnyside Ave., Visalia, CA 93277
      Phone: (559) 635-3720 | Fax: (559) 733-5006


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