Propose ban on e-cigarettes, $1.5 million for transitional housing, $600 million for Medi-Cal contract with Kaiser
By Daniel Borsuk
One hundred Contra Costa County social workers won a hard-fought 3.44 percent salary increase from the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday that reconvened after taking a five-week summer break.
On a 4-0 vote supervisors approved the consent item granting the pay hike for social workers. Social workers will see the salary increases go into effect Oct. 1.
An absent board chair John Gioia of Richmond was attending a statewide supervisors meeting.
“We are pleased and we are surprised by the board of supervisors vote,” said social worker Carmen Rivera, a union member of the Service Employees International Union Local 1021 that represents 100 employees.
Board Vice Chair Candace Andersen of Danville said the reason the board decided to move on the long sought demand by SEIU was to finally bring county social workers salaries up to Bay Area salary levels. A recent survey found Contra Costa social workers were 3.44 percent below mean of comparable salaries of Bay Area social workers.
“This has been an on-going issue and finally we had some flexibility in the budget to do something about it,” Andersen said.
Unlike Alameda County that draws additional revenues from a sales tax and can pay social workers better salaries, Andersen said Contra Costa County must pay social worker positions from general funds.
Currently, the county has a 12 percent vacancy rate in its Employment and Human Services Department with 409 unfilled positions, the highest in the Bay Area.
It is too early to tell if the pay increase will turn the tide in permanently improving the earning power of social workers in the county, but it might be the start of good things to come.
OK Pay Hikes for Probation Workers, Juvenile Institution Officer
County probation workers and supervisors under contract with the represented by the Deputy Sheriffs Association have agreed to a new four-year labor agreement with the county that increase salaries 5 percent every July 1 on 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022.
Ban on E-Cigarettes Proposed
An idea to impose a countywide ban on e-cigarettes, the vaporized flavored tobacco product that is heavily marketed to teenagers and is reportedly linked with respiratory and cancer cases around the nation, was proposed by Supervisor Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill.
Health hazards tied to teens who have used e-cigarettes have been recently popping up around the nation and Mitchoff believes Contra Costa County Health officials should report what is occurring locally. “There’s been so much bad publicity about vaping products and the health risks associated with them for our youth, I think we need to have a discussion on that topic and maybe impose a ban on this product,” the supervisor said.
There was no further discussion on the topic. A date has not been set when the report or issue will be presented for discussion.
Supervisors Approve $1.5 Million Contract With Interfaith Transitional Housing
Supervisors approved a $1.5 million contract with Contra Costa Interfaith Transitional Housing Inc. to provide temporary supportive housing services to homeless Contra Costa County residents to assist CalWORKS families achieve self-sufficiency and housing stability. The contract will be in effect from August 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020.
County Inks $600 Million Medi-Cal Contract Extension With Kaiser
Supervisors approved a Medi-Cal contract extension with Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. effective September 30, 2019 to September 30, 2021 for additional Medi-Cal services for Contra Costa Health Plan members enrolled in the Kaiser Health Plan. The supervisors’ action was consent vote.
Fire Chief Broschard’s Report
Contra Costa County Fire Protection District’s Lewis T. Broschard IlI’s report to supervisors, who also serve in the capacity of the county fire commission, the chief reported about the fire season:
“To date, this fire season has been mild across the state. There are estimates stating that up to 90 percent fewer acres have burned compared with the same time last year.
In our District, there have been about the same number of fires as compared with last year, and we have succeeded in keeping these relatively small fires small. There have been three significant wildland fires in the east Contra Costa Fire Protection District within the last 60 days, and we provided substantial resources for an extended period. We now are entering what is normally the most active and dangerous period of our local fire season but with a significantly higher fuel load than in recent years. We all should be reminded there is still considerable potential for large and destructive wildfires until consistent rains begin to fall in the area.”