Public employees across California have been tasked with more work than ever, due to decimated staffing levels since the recession. San Benito County is no exception. So it’s extremely hard for workers like Lupe Vasquez in the Public Works Department to request vacation and actually get it approved, with so few employees left to cover the work.
That’s why Lupe was shocked when he noticed the County had taken 89 hours of vacation time from his paycheck last February. He would later learn that the County decided to reduce vacation accruals for several employees, including Lupe, in their effort to enforce a 25-year old personnel rule. The rule states that vacation accruals will be capped at twice the yearly accrual rate, but the cap will only be enforced on December 31st of each year. Therefore, employees are allowed to exceed the cap so they can use their accrued vacation before December 31st.
Lupe immediately contacted his steward, Michael Silverman, who helped him file a grievance challenging management’s decision to reduce his accruals. At the grievance meeting with County Personnel, Michael and Lupe argued for fairness, and the County agreed! They recognized the importance of letting Lupe and other affected employees keep the vacation time they had earned. Although Lupe was the only worker who filed a grievance, we are happy to report that vacation hours were restored for nearly all employees who were affected, which shows how important it is to always work together as a union to assert our rights and push for fairness in the workplace.
The County has expressed an interest in meeting with us to clarify the intent of the vacation accrual cap in their personnel rules. Until that happens, we want to remind San Benito County members to closely monitor your vacation accruals and do your best to use your accrued time before December 31st of each year. If management refuses to grant your vacation request, contact your steward or the Contract Enforcement Department.