Advocate for increased resources to public services, claim campaign of intimidation by county executives
At this morning’s Contra Costa Board of Supervisors Meeting, county social and eligibility workers announced their intention to conduct an unfair labor practice strike. The strike is scheduled to begin on Friday, September 30th and last until Tuesday, October 4th.
“Contra Costa County Executives and the Board of Supervisors must negotiate a contract that recognizes the dedicated workers who serve those in our communities who need the most protection,” said Yvonne Ybanez, a Contra Costa Social Services Program Assistant and county resident. “We are fighting to make sure we have the safety, resources and staffing to do our jobs.”
The county workers, in their four months of negotiations with the County, have been bargaining to improve services to Contra Costa’s at-risk residents that include the homeless, victims of child and elder abuse, and families in need of food assistance.
Workers have brought to light the loss of $21 million for public assistance programs and the County’s failure to address the understaffing that’s resulted in increased case loads and backlogs of cases. In the last three years millions, allocated from state and federal sources to administer programs like CalFresh and CalWorks, had to be returned by the County because staff vacancies in the Employment and Services Department is as high as 40 percent.
Contra Costa County’s failure to recruit and retain staff puts crucial public assistance programs at risk. Workers who have spoken out on these revelations have been targeted and threatened by County management. Workers will strike Friday, September 30, in protest of these unfair labor practices and to bring further attention to the county’s social service crisis.
In order to deliver consistent, quality, public assistance to county residents, Contra Costa Executives need to recruit and retain the best staff to deliver it. But, as Contra Costa has one of the lowest salary and benefit packages in the Bay Area, leaving many employees to lean on the very public assistance services they administer.
Safety is another factor keeping the county from keeping a fully-staffed workforce. Multiple violent incidents—including shootings—take place every year in front of county facilities. County safety protocols were originally written in 1976 and have yet to be revised to adequately address the threats workers and clients face today.
The Contra Costa Labor Council, representing 80,000 working families in the county, has sanctioned the scheduled unfair labor practice strike. While a majority of Contra County eligibility and social workers will be out on picket lines from Friday, Sept 30th to October 4th, they have organized a crew to handle emergency calls and services.