SHASTA COUNTY EMPLOYEES VOTE OVERWHELMINGLY TO STRIKE
REDDING, CA 1200hrs (PST) Good Afternoon. Welcome and thank you for attending our press conference today. My name is Chris Darker and I am the Business Manager & Secretary-Treasurer for United Public Employees of California Local 792. UPEC represents over 3,300 public employees in 14 Counties throughout Northern California.
I am proud to be joined by our members and employees of Shasta County. I want to thank them for taking time out of their busy schedule and for their dedicated service to the citizens of Shasta County.
Last night Shasta County employees voted in favor of conducting a one week strike. The purpose of our Press Conference today is to give advanced notice to citizens of Shasta County that services these employees provide will be disrupted from January 30 – February 3, 2017.
It’s unfortunate that the only option remaining where employees can demonstrate their frustration with the Board of Supervisors is to withhold their services but that is what the California Supreme Court has ruled we can do.
The decision to strike comes after nearly one year of negotiations. County employees are angry with the Board of Supervisors for ignoring their issues on safety and fairness. These employees feel their issues have fallen on deaf ears and the only recourse they have now is to increase the volume by conducting a job action in the hope that the Board of Supervisors will hear them and respond fairly.
UPEC has been engaged in a lengthy bargaining process with Shasta County and have followed the direction of its members to force the dispute over fairness and safety to impasse, mediation and fact-finding with an independent, neutral hearing officer who was hired to listen to both sides. The fact-finding process produced a recommendation that the employee union would agree to recommend. For no good reason, the Board of Supervisors REJECTED the hearing officer’s recommendation.
The Board refuses to eliminate the retiree-admin fee despite the fact no one in a supervisory or management position pays the fee and most other rank and file County employees don’t pay it either. The Board continues to insist that our unit of employees, the lowest paid County workers, pay this fee. That is simply unfair which is what the Hearing Officer recognized! Make no mistake about this labor dispute, it is not about money it’s about fairness.
Shasta County has never disputed they could not afford to finally relieve employees of this fee. In fact, the independent financial analysis (TFR Report) revealed Shasta County has seen large annual surpluses for the past five years. The most growth occurred in unrestricted portion of the General Fund balance, which grew from $53.7 million at June 30, 2011 to $77.9 million at June 30, 2015.
On the Issue of Safety, County employees responding to calls after hours and late at night are not safe. These employees are accosted by transients behind County buildings, ally’s and parking lots. They are sent to domestic situations where they must remove children of abuse from the home without the protection of law enforcement. The County process to address these issues has failed to resolve these issues. The County has failed to provide adequate safety measures to these employees, has rejected proposed solutions by employees, and rejects a joint safety committee recommended by the neutral fact-finder.
During the strike, Shasta County employees will continue to provide a service to the citizens by conducting a canned food drive in front of the County Administration Building on Court street for the Senior Nutrition Center.