Union Brothers and Sisters,
The results are in and members of SEIU 521 voted to ratify a new two-year contract with Kern County. The vote count took place on Dec. 13. 75 percent of members who cast a ballot voted “YES” to accept the Tentative Agreement.
The 2017 Bargaining Team would like to thank each and every member who voted, participated in worksite actions, came to meetings, and signed up as a CAT (Contract Action Team member). This agreement was not easily reached, but we mobilized and put enough pressure on the County to win one additional holiday, three paid closure days during the holidays in 2017 and 2018, and a bonus for every member. We kept our “me too” clause and protected healthcare and retirement.
Going into 2018, we must continue to pull together and build unity and power to take advantage of the opportunities outlined in this contract. We must advocate for our coworkers and the services we provide and act on the language we won that allows us to meet regularly with Department Heads and the County to address workforce issues in ways that we were not able to before. In this new contract, we also won language improvements to protect workers in their evaluations, ensure pay during travel for drivers and passengers, protect workers from retaliation and intimidation for filing complaints, and provide release time to train leaders that will help us advocate for our rights on the job. All of these rights were previously disregarded. But in order to take full advantage of these rights, we will need to continue to work together.
Let’s unify around wins in this contract that we hope to resolve by July 1, 2018:
- Review county classifications that have high turnover so we can revise the salary schedule to recruit and retain employees in classifications where the County is understaffed, causing members to leave the County for other sectors or regions and impacting our ability to provide adequate and effective services to the most vulnerable in our community
- Revise Extra Help classifications so that we can equalize salaries and slow the race to the bottom
- Negotiate with the County to review the salary schedule and revise it to be competitive so we can recruit and retain county employees, which would result in the last step being increased by 5 percent
As a bargaining team, we worked to reach an agreement that would help the entire membership. This contract is not everything we were hoping to achieve, but we must remember where we started and where we are now. In the coming months, union members need to stay involved to help in the classification and compensation work and labor management issues in our Departments. We are the union, and there are opportunities for each of us to protect the rights of our coworkers and build power in our workplaces. We can and will build a stronger union with all of us standing together to advocate for our work and the services we provide to our community. Safety for county workers and the community we serve is a priority and we must show the Board that we are united and standing up for the greater good for workers and Kern County.
From each and every one of our bargaining team members, we wish you Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year.
Your 2017 Bargaining Team