Hundreds joined the tele-town hall on Nov. 8 for a contract update. Mike Shelton and Sonja Bennett led the event and walked through the flurry of activity that’s taken place over the past month.
The County issued a Last, Best and Final Offer on Oct. 24. The County’s offer was filled with reductions in certain types of pay including overtime, limitations in bereavement leave, and removal of the “me too” clause. Since our return to the table this week, we’ve been able to fight back these cuts. Our bargaining team is working hard and continued to stand up for our proposals in the three bargaining sessions this week. Our proposals help members, move us forward, are very reasonable and specifically designed to have a limited impact on the county budget.
Because of our work over the past four months to come together, purple up, attend unity breaks, lobby the board of supervisors, march on Labor Day, rally at OC Sills, Kinship and other places around the county, send letters, call our supervisors and show support, the County has backed off of their most harmful proposals.
Here’s what we’ve accomplished so far:
- We have agreed to a floating holiday for 2017. Moving forward in 2018, we will have Veterans day as a holiday, and employees will receive holiday pay for all hours worked, not just 8 hours
- We have agreed to Classification and Compensation language that will allow us to negotiate with the county on critical classifications that are hard to recruit. This would allow us to implement some changes as early as next month and we will continue to work on other classifications throughout the term of this contract
- We have agreed to language about personnel files ensuring that written reprimands and counseling memos that are not relevant to the current evaluation period and not part of a recurring pattern within the last 24 months will not be referenced in annual performance reports
- We have agreed to first-ever workload language that we will negotiate during the term of this agreement with employees in various units from Human Services, Aging & Adult Services, Child Support and Behavioral Health. Furthermore, we will meet within 30 days of ratification to address how tasks are assigned during absences or off schedule, which is a major problem for us.
Taken as a whole, these are meaningful victories in a contract campaign that started with all takeaways by the County.
We’re still fighting in a constrained budget environment where the Board wants to reduce the deficit in the general fund and fire fund. Our challenge is to reach an agreement with the County or get as close to an agreement as possible before reaching impasse. Impasse means that we are no longer able to continue negotiating and there is no possibility of reaching an agreement. Once the County declares impasse, it means they are walking away from the table and they could impose their last, best and final offer along with the agreements we have made already. Our hope is to get the Board to agree to utilize one time monies from the unrestricted reserves to help workers with non-pensionable monetary relief to get us through the next 2 years.
We will continue to bargain in good faith in hopes of agreeing on as many proposals as possible that benefit county workers and in the hopes of reaching a Tentative Agreement.
Should we be unable to reach a final Tentative Agreement, we will proceed with a strike authorization vote and/or vote on final proposals at the Nov. 15 general membership meeting. We’ve already mailed strike authorization ballots to members who live outside of a 50-mile radius from Bakersfield.
We will return to the bargaining table on Tuesday, Nov. 14. Purple Up to support our bargaining team!
Also, make sure to RSVP for the General Membership Meeting on Nov. 15 by emailing BF.RSVP@seiu521.org. On Nov. 15, we’ll be providing another update from negotiations during back-to-back presentations by the bargaining team from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Central Labor Council on 200 West Jeffrey Street in Bakersfield. Once you complete a 30-minute update session, you’ll be able to vote on a strike authorization. If you live 50 miles or more away from Bakersfield, your strike authorization ballot is already in the mail. We will announce the results of the vote on Nov. 21.
- Nov. 14 – Purple Up!
- Nov. 15 – General Membership meeting at Central Labor Council from 4 – 7 p.m. (Update and voting if necessary) RSVP to BF.RSVP@seiu521.org.
Print the “I Support County Workers” window sign for your car, your office, or a local business and let’s show everyone that Kern County supports working people.
Stay united and let’s continue building support for our bargaining team. Purple Up Tuesday, Nov. 14.