On Monday, November 5th, chants blared through bullhorns, hundreds of picket signs were raised and whistles were blown by SEIU Local 521 members participating in an Unfair Labor Practices Strike in protest of Stanislaus County Management’s illegal actions throughout the last seven months of contract negotiations. Management practices included the intimidation of workers, attempts to prohibit union reps from access to members, and failure to comply with information requests.
“I feel so in awe about how many people showed up and cared enough to speak out against intimidation and unfair labor practices by the county,” said Kate Selover, President of the Stanislaus County Chapter of SEIU Local 521, and a Child Support Officer with the county for 30 years. “If we don’t make a stand or step up, we’re not going to be able to do what we are most passionate about, which is serving our community. The County has chosen to not prioritize the services that are responsible for keeping at-risk children and seniors out of dangerous conditions, assisting the unemployed into jobs, and providing homeless outreach”.
The one-day strike was a historic display of unity by workers in Stanislaus County and was unlike any other this county has seen in decades, if ever.
The voices of the hundreds of County workers who are members of SEIU Local 521 were heard loud and clear — despite County management’s persistent efforts to silence our workers — at the Community Services Agency Building throughout the day on Monday, November 5th as the striking workers called on the Board of Supervisors to improve the safety of our most vulnerable populations and the working conditions of those whose job it is to help and protect them.
SEIU Local 521 represents county social workers, child support officers, mental health clinicians and therapists, community service workers, community psychologists, animal control, veterans’ service providers, librarians and others who are responsible for keeping at-risk children and seniors out of dangerous conditions, assisting the unemployed into jobs, and homeless outreach among other crucial services the people of Stanislaus County need.
Ana Pacheco, Social Worker IV, and Adylene Villaseñor, Mental Health Clinician, both participated in the strike and expressed their support for one another. “It was empowering to see the unity amongst everyone today. We’ve always been taught to fight for what we believe is right and today we demonstrated that we are truly powerful when we to fight together to advocate for the families we serve.”
An afternoon member led rally included speakers from our Stanislaus County Chapter bargaining team, Tim Robertson, Director of the North Valley Labor Federation, Guy Nason, President of AFSCME Local 10, and SEIU Local 521 Chief Elected Officer, Riko Mendez.
“I feel good about today’s strike because of everyone who supported us to get what we and our community deserve,” said Natharchia Peoples, Social Worker for Stanislaus County for two years. “We work really hard for the families and children of our communities, and as frontline County workers, we are the people who keep Stanislaus safe. We are advocates for our residents.”
Despite their hard work, workers face increasing caseloads, short staffing, and high turnover, which puts the most vulnerable residents of Stanislaus County at greater risk. This crisis is caused by the Board of Supervisors’ refusal to invest in improving access to the vital services our community needs.
County workers are calling on the Board of Supervisors to do the right thing by investing in the essential public services our community depends on, agreeing to sit down and listen to our concerns, and pledging to put an end to the retaliation, intimidation, and threats made by workers standing up for our community.
Following Monday’s strike, a member delegation led by Chapter President, Kate Selover addressed the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors on behalf of the membership. “We are looking for long-term solutions to the challenges facing our frontline county workers, let’s work together to settle a contract that allow us to continue our work of helping the people of our County,” said Kate Selover…. “We truly believe that we should at least be engaging in dialogue so that we can move the conversation in the direction that supports our community and our county.”
To view more photos from the ULP strike visit our Region 3 Facebook Page Here